Michael Ritchie directs Chevy Chase, R. Lee Ermey and Julianne Phillips in this comedy sequel where the investigative reporter with a talent for improvised disguises inherits a plantation in the Deep South.
I unreservedly love the original so am never sure whether my expectations are way too high here or I’m giving a very lazy film a pass due to in-built fondness. Many of the key players are back for a new mystery, and Chase admirably for the first half never let’s a scene slide without landing a chuckle worthy ad-lib. Once the formula takes over and Ritchie tries to hit the exact same action and thriller beats of the first film, we just get a cornucopia of pointless noise and colours but very few gags or cliffhangers. The scene where Chase poses as a faith healer but is given absolutely nothing funny to do is indicative of Fletch Lives’ weakness. Andrew Bergman adapted the first film and has proven a continued success with crime comedies since. His absence is felt. Relying on Chase to solely always find laughs that aren’t there on the shooting script with limited comedy support was a gamble that doesn’t pay off this time. If you can accept this has none of the tight plotting, chiming ensemble or smarmy sharpness of its predecessor, it is an undemanding watchable product of its time.
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