Tuesday, December 27, 2011
(May 1985, U.S.)
Look up the year 1985, and besides John Rambo, you're likely to find Chevy Chase written all over it. In addition to FLETCH, he made NATIONAL LAMPOON'S EUROPEAN VACATION and SPIES LIKE US. In my opinion, I can only justify the latter two by saying that ONE out of three ain't bad. As for Michael Richie's film version of Gregory McDonald's popular novels, no one else but Chevy Chase (at the time) could have played the wisecracking undercover investigative newspaper reporter, Irwin M. Fletcher. He was still young and still just as loony as he'd been those years on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and CADDYSHACK (1980).
Fletch is not just a lovable wise-ass (you gotta love the guy!), but also a man who finds it necessary to change his identity multiple times in order to crack the big story. The Los Angeles drug trade is Fletch's latest story, and while investigating undercover as a beach wanderer, he's approached by Alan Stanwyk (played by Tim Matheson) who wants Fletch to murder him because he claims he has inoperable bone cancer; this way his family will receive his life insurance. Unaware that Fletch is who he is, Stanwyk thinks he would be the perfect man for the job, as he appears to be a drifter who can thus simply disappear after the shooting without any suspicions being raised.
Following all of this so far?
Fletch agrees to kill Stanwyk but is, of course, suspicious of Stanwyk's motives. Fletch starts to dig, and uncovers a story much greater than his exposé of small-time drug dealers. As he uncovers the lurid truth of bigamy regarding Stanwyk, he also discovers that a crooked police chief (played by Joe Don Baker) is behind the drug trafficking on the beaches. So guess what? Good guy Fletch wins the day, the bad guys go to jail and the "lady in question" falls for Fletch. This could have all played out as great film noir if it weren't so damn funny!
I'll tell you what's NOT so damn funny and that's thinking for even one moment that it's sequel FLETCH LIVES (1988) would work for even a second. That's just tragic. What's even more tragic is that I'm sure a FLETCH remake is out there in the works somewhere. So who will play Fletch today? Well, in my opinion, Vince Vaugn is perhaps the only quick-talking wise-ass I can see coming close. We'll see.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Chief Karlin: "So, what's your name?"
Karlin: "Full name?"
Fletch: "Fletch F. Fletch."
Karlin: "I see. And what do you do for a living, Mr. Fletch?"
Fletch: "I'm a shepherd."
Karlin: "Officers, could you excuse us for a few moments?"
Fletch: "Yeah, why don't you guys go down to the gym and pump each other."