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Confess, Fletch

Updated: Jan 3


I watched Confess, Fletch on Showtime last night. Like the rest of the world, I missed it upon release earlier this year. It was very well reviewed, but given one of those hybrid theatrical–V.O.D. releases that only confuses everybody.


So was this is a hidden gem, or a swing-and-a-miss?


It certainly seems like a movie out of its time—a throwback to a kind of mainstream studio comedy that is no longer made. I found an interview with writer/director Greg Mottola on the tribulations of getting it on screen, which pretty much confirms that point. (Both Mottola and Hamm gave back some of their salaries to buy a few extra days of filming.)


I’m sorry to say...I found it more clever than good.


I’m hesitant to say this because I love love LOVE Jon Hamm—and the last thing I want is to try to pitch him a project in five years and he Googles me and finds this column, ack!


Hamm works his ass off in this movie. You can tell this was a passion project, and he knows it’s all on his shoulders—and he’s really a winning, charming presence.


I love Jon Hamm!


Except, and here’s the problem...most of the movie seems to be wacky, self-absorbed people going off on tangents while Fletch snows them with a fake name.


There’s a lot of smart, clever dialogue, but at a certain point, I just checked out. One scene of it is great; two entertaining; but when it’s 20 scenes in a row, it rings false. I was desperate for some emotional grounding, and never got it.


For me, there’s no way a real person doesn’t seem Fletch smirking and mocking them right to their face and not go, “Hey, are you making fun of me?!”


So it’s just not real. It’s farce.


(The solution would be to hang a lantern on it: somebody calls him out on making fun of them, and he apologizes and becomes vulnerable. It would have been super interesting and weird...but might have unraveled the entire premise.)


But what exactly is the movie making fun of, anyway? Wealthy wasps at a yacht club? Jon Hamm seems like he was born in one of their blazers (the entire premise of his character in Mad Men).


They pay lip service to this, but to me it only begs the question: who is Fletch? What does he care about?


I was really grasping for some kind of personal stakes and real jeopardy in this film...and didn’t find it.


I guess my main problem is that the source material (which I’ve never read) seems far removed from where the culture is at in 2022 (’23). It feels like an old 1970s potboiler, because that’s exactly what it was.


The second I learned in the film (and it happens almost right away) that the plot is about an art theft—I was like, uh-oh.


There’s only one film that I can think of that made an art theft into a hit—The Thomas Crown Affair (the remake).


It’s just so un-relatable a situation—who cares about rich people having their art stolen?


Now, remaking The Thomas Crown Affair with Jon Hamm—that’s a great idea!


Also, I usually think I’m pretty smart, but I’m not sure I entirely followed the plot in Confess, Fletch—who was double-crossing who, or why.


So I guess I just didn’t get it. Like most people my age, of course I saw the original two Fletch movies with Chevy Chase in the ’80s, but what was their appeal? I think it was just Chevy Chase being a wiseass at a time when that was still somehow marketable.


Jon Hamm being a wiseass...I’m not sure it works. Maybe because he’s too smart for this? Or, dare I say, too good-looking to be sympathetic?


It seems very hard for Jon Hamm to play the underdog.


There is a whole genre of essay-writing on why Jon Hamm hasn’t been a bigger star: here’s one from 2017 and one from a few months ago.


I thought he was great in Beirut, a good and overlooked movie.


It must be very weird to be the subject of such articles. His performance in Mad Men is so brilliant—and such perfect casting—that it casts a long shadow.


He’s so preternaturally handsome and yet, at heart, seems to be a goofball. This is a harder casting challenge than you might think.


Mad Men cracked the Jon Hamm code once, in such a triumphant way: the mid-century American Adonis with feet of clay. To do it again but in a different context seems like a big challenge.


I’ll be rooting for him! And I think somebody else will figure it out. He’s too precious a resource to be wasted.

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