FLETCH

PrintE-mail Written by John Townsend

There were many great films in the 1980s. Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Die Hard, Raging Bull; films that defined a generation and consistently populate the ever-changing Top 10 lists of cinema audiences. And there is also Fletch; regularly overlooked and often discarded. Are we saying Fletch deserves to be discussed in such illustrious company? Well, no. But it does warrant re-watching as this unsung classic reaches the ripe old age of thirty.

Irving M. Fletcher (Chase) is an investigative reporter on the trail of drug dealing beach bums, when he receives an interesting proposition: terminal millionaire Alan Stanwyk (Matheson) wants to hire Fletch to murder him in order to protect his family from months of suffering. Immediately suspicious Fletch digs into Stanwyk’s life and uncovers a complex web of lies.

You may laugh out loud while watching Fletch, you may occasionally guffaw, but more likely than not you will chuckle along happily at the witty exchanges and hugely entertaining set pieces. Structured very much like a sketch from Chase’s spiritual home Saturday Night Live, this is a film of moments. From the ridiculousness of the costume changes to the never ending supply of deadpan one liners, Fletch is a film that appeals to that simplest of cinematic pleasures; fun. There is nothing of depth or real substance here, just constant and gentle pressure on your funny bone giving the film an overall sense of unavoidable likeability.

Chase is simply very Chase-like in a role that defines him, managing to remain just the right side of being annoyingly cocky, although some suspension of disbelief is required at certain times. The supporting cast do what needs to be done, with Geena Davis in a small role, and the direction by Michael Ritchie is competent if formulaic.

Make no mistake though, this is Chase’s film and one that perfectly demonstrates his ironic sarcasm and laconic wit. Fletch is indicative of its time with Harold Faltermeyer’s electronic score conjuring up memories of big hair-dos and brightly coloured outfits. Instead of seeking fault, enjoy Fletch for what it is rather than what it isn’t, and it will reward you with a light-hearted revelation, when compared to some of today’s so-called comedies.

So then, a classic of the era, a film that defines a decade? Perhaps not, but it is one that you won’t regret revisiting.

FLETCH (1985) / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: MICHAELRITCHIE / SCREENPLAY: ANDREW BERGMAN / STARRING: CHEVY CHASE, TIM MATHESON, JOE DON BAKER, RICHARD LIBERTINI, DANA WHEELER-NICHOLSON / RELEASE DATE: 15TH FEBRUARY



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