Saturday, April 01, 2023

Confess, Fletch—Soundtrack on Blue Note

The standards for journalism have fallen so low, even Irwin Fletcher has left his old profession in disgust. However, he is still perfectly happy to defy authority and engage in some improvised deception, for a good cause. For him, an attractive Italian woman in trouble certainly qualifies as such. Of course, his new misadventures cannot compete with Michael Ritchie’s original Fletch film, but at least the soundtrack full of classic Blue Note (and Pacific Jazz) tunes keeps everything cool and jaunty in Greg Mottola’s Confess, Fletch, which releases Tuesday on DVD.

Angela de Grassi was rather surprised when her father the Count hired Fletch to track down several of the family’s valuable paintings (of semi-dubious providence), but she was pleasantly surprised by his progress—and his charm. Indeed, he will be a great
comfort when the Count is kidnapped. Instead of money, his abductors demand the stolen paintings, so Fletch makes haste to Boston, to investigate Ronald Horan, the dodgy art dealer possibly fencing the stolen paintings.

Complications immediately set in when Fletch finds a murdered body in the townhouse de Grassi arranged for him. Inspector Morris “Slow-Mo” Monroe takes an instant dislike to Fletch, but he needs more evidence for an arrest. Fletch will have to clear his name while saving the Count, but the two cases are probably related anyway.

Confess, Fletch
is amusing, but nobody will be quoting from it in a year’s time. It is brisk and breezy, but even more laidback than the first Chevy Chase film. As Fletch, Jon Hamm has an appropriately casual attitude, but his wisecracks do not land with the same crispness. Hamm shares some appealing chemistry with Lorenza Izzo as de Grassi (she’s Chilean, but she convincingly passes for Mediterranean). He also kvetches drolly with his old Mad Men colleague, John Slattery, playing an old newspaper crony, but it is dry chuckles rather than big laughs.

Yet, the jazz helps elevate everything. Hank Mobley’s “This I Dig of You” can make any scene stylish and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers give the film an energetic send-off with “Moanin.’” Plus, there are some Chet Baker and Astrud Gilberto tracks in there, from sister labels now under Blue Note’s purview. To help with transitions, David Arnold also provides a handful of original themes that have a nice “crime jazz”-ish retro vibe.

We can probably guess Motolla and co-screenwriter Zev Borow made some last minute re-writes by the sudden introduction of new third-act characters. Still, nobody was obsessively re-watching the 1985 film because they were fascinated with the mystery of Alan Stanwyk. Motolla’s reboot is all very lightweight, but it is entertaining (and peppy, thanks to the soundtrack). Recommended as relaxing streaming option,
Confess, Fletch releases this Tuesday (4/4) on DVD and BluRay.