Journalist Irwin Fletch Fletcher is approached by a millionaire (Matheson) who claims to be dying of bone cancer and asks to be painlessly assassinated so his wife (Wheeler-Nicolson) can claim the insurance money. Suspicious of the deal, Fletch digs de
Though smarmy, opportunist investigative reporter Irwin (‘no one calls me Irwin’) Fletcher somehow became comedian Chevy Chase’s signature role, this bland adaptation of Gregory MacDonald’s terrific crime novel is a tired effort.
The supporting suspects are played by an array of welcome ‘80s character faces – George Wendt (Cheers), George Wyner (Hill Street Blues), M. Emmet Walsh (Blood Simple) and Joe Don Baker (Edge of Darkness) – and a young Geena Davis is a bright spot as Fletch’s Gal Friday, but Chase is miscast as MacDonald’s heel of a hero, and has to fall back on Peter Sellers knock-off disguises, funny false names (‘Dr Rosenpenis’, ‘Arnold Babar’, ‘Mr Poon’) and lame wisecracks (‘Why don't we go lay on the bed and I'll fill you in?’).
A large percentage of the running time is devoted to people getting in and out of cars, driving around, walking in and out of buildings, walking around or just plain sitting still that Harold Faltermeyer can cram in a fistful of forgettable musak tracks to fill out a Beverly Hills Cop-style soundtrack album. Director Michael Ritchie had made his reputation with brilliant, offbeat 1970s films (The Candidate, Smile, Prime Cut) but spent the 1980s working well below his ability on schlock like this and The Golden Child.
Though MacDonald wrote a string of sequels, Ritchie’s Fletch Lives (1989) is an ‘original’ which feels more like a Bob Hope vehicle as Fletch inherits a Southern plantation and gets mixed up with bikers, the Ku Klux Klan, toxic waste and crooked televangelists.
Doesn't live up to its reputation