Michael Ritchie directs Chevy Chase, Tim Matheson and Dana Wheeler-Nicholson in this comedy thriller where an undercover reporter posing as a beach junkie chases down a new story when a millionaire asks him to kill him.
From the ridiculously upbeat theme song to the rerun-the-fun end credits Fletch is exactly what I want from a movie. Sarcastic, silly and surprisingly hard edged. Eighties comedies now feel quite exotic three decades later. They are filmed on gritty location, have stunt sequences that are more knockout and perilous than the CGI rope-a-dopes we see now in billion dollar blockbuster adventures… and the antagonists are genuinely scary threats. Drug smugglers, fascist cops, corporations and military dictators. You don’t see any of that in Zac Efron or Kevin Heart movies these days. Much like Beverly Hills Cop, Fletch’s Harold Faltermeyer score is an electronic marvel of excitement, paranoia, cool and dynamism. Whenever I’m doing some sleuthing or anything slightly illegal, this is the soundtrack playing in mind. Chase is “working overtime” here… the smartest (and rudest) guy in the room – lying and passive aggressively snarking the competition until he has his next clue to follow. You’d punch such a man in real life… but Fletch is wish fulfilment. Watching him match wits with violent idiots and officious one percenters and run circles around them is a joy. He improvises killer punchline and endless toppers onto an already unusually witty and clever script. An A-Game comedy star forbidding any take that lacks some hilarious bit of business whether mugging, slap-sticking or off-hand commenting. And watching his over confident seduction of the beautiful Dana Wheeler-Nicholson is the cherry on top. For most people Fletch is just a throwaway memory from their childhood. For me its the tabula rasa of cinematic nirvana.
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