After 22 years, I finally managed to watch Chevy Chase's Fletch. Out in a new "Jane Doe" Edition, Fletch brings the wise-cracking reporter to DVD in an "all-new" way, which means Universal simply tacked on a couple of forgettable bonus features. Nevertheless, the movie is pretty funny and not overly dated, and reminds us of a time when Chase could headline a movie.
Fletch follows Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher, a newspaper reporter who has been investigating a drug syndicate for quite some time. Masquerading as an addict, he wanders the beaches looking for new clues and befriending the transients. When a mysterious rich businessman presents him with a strange request (he wants to pay Fletch to murder him), Fletch quickly realizes he is in over his head - but that doesn't stop him. Between angry cops, a beautiful woman and dozens of unique identities, Fletch weaves his way to the truth.
Fletch shows Chase at his finest, as he plays off the various situations and circumstances he finds himself in. His direct, slightly illogical logic makes him a modern day Jacques Clouseau, except that he only fakes his stupidity. His charm comes from his off-the-wall humor that works surprisingly well, even today. A decade after audiences stopped caring about Chase, he shows that he can still be funny given the right role.
Overall, the movie is gently funny. It has some extremely funny moments, but for the most part, Fletch is full of a lot of chuckles that neither amaze nor bore. It is by no means a spectacular movie, but one that keeps moving at a fast pace with enough goofy sequences to entertain even the most fickle of audiences. It is good for a watch or two, but after that, it's time to move on to bigger and better things (and if you like Chase, then I presume you live Christmas Vacation).
As far as DVD's go, this new special edition is really quite a joke. As is the case with most special editions for movies that come out 20 years later, especially for movies that aren't some spectacular epic that changed cinematic history, the studio has developed some quick and effortless bonus features in order to fill the DVD with more than just the movie. Other than some digitally remastered picture and surround sound, the DVD contains some interviews with the cast and crew, a behind-the-scenes look at the various disguises Fletch uses in the movie, and - the capper - a montage of the goofiest moments in the movie. I'm pretty sure anyone could make a montage of Fletch moments quite easily, so how this is a special feature is beyond me.
Fletch is a funny movie that stands the test of time quite well (other than silly '80's outfits that actually add to its charm), but it isn't a laugh-out-loud riot. If you already own the DVD, this new version is really quite useless, but for people my age who haven't watched the movie, it's probably worth a rental.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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