- Movie Rating -

Fletch (1985)

| May 31, 1985

Personally, I have never really liked Chevy Chase as an actor because he always seems to be playing the same character – the chuckle-headed wiseass who always has a one-liner in the chamber.  He seems to walk on as Chevy Chase and not as a character.  That’s why Fletch is such a breath of fresh air.  Yes, the one-liners are here but there is a story and the supporting characters are interesting too.

Based on popular book series by Gregory McDonald (two of which I’ve read), Fletch is a Los Angeles investigative reporter, the kind of guy who isn’t afraid to get his fingernails dirty and has a variety of disguises to get in the front door.  Mistaken for a bum, he is asked by a millionaire Alan Stanwick (Tim Matheson) who says he’s dying of cancer and wants Fletch to murder him.  Why?  Well, Stanwick says he’s dying of cancer and wants his wife to collect the insurance money.  The pay-out: $50,000.  Of course, Fletch is suspicious and as a journalist begins to investigate Stanwick, his friends, his business and a strange bit of business out in Utah.

What is amazing is that the plot here is really well managed.  We follow along and we are caught up in the investigation.  You might think that Chase’s witticism would get tiresome but somehow, I didn’t mind.  Yes, they are frequent but they are also very funny.  They mix well with the plot.

As I’m praising the film, I must also mention that I could smell some studio tinkering.  This is Michael Ritchie’s first good film, after directing duds like The Island, Semi-Tough and The Survivors but once can sense that the movie has been retooled and some of the action scenes pumped up after the success of Beverly Hills Cop.  The movie resembles that picture in a great many of its scenes.  Personally, I think Fletch is the better of the two.  It is better than I expected and a lot more fun, and I give Chevy Chase a lot of credit for relaxing in this movie and not always going to for the laugh.  Finally, he’s in a movie and not just a stand-up routine.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.