When Hollywood see Jon Hamm, they see a hunky, beautiful man made out of marble, ready to be used as eye candy in military uniforms or corporate suits for years. But Hamm himself clearly has some sort of attachment to comedy legends like Chevy Chase or Bill Murray, hoping to build more of a career on playing guys like that. Confess, Fletch is the perfect movie to show the world that Hamm can be that type of comedic leading man, finding the perfect movie to use all of his talents, physical or otherwise, onscreen.
More book adaptation than Chevy Chase reboot, Confess, Fletch oscillates between Rome and Boston. Fletch (Hamm) arrives at his Boston AirBnB only to find a murdered woman downstairs. Even though he calls the cops, Detective Monroe (Roy Wood Jr.) and his partner Griz (Ayden Mayeri) are highly suspicious of Fletch, putting him at the top of the suspect list. Meanwhile, Fletch is in Boston to help track down a bunch of stolen stuff from his latest romantic entanglement Angela (Lorena Izzo). Angela has lost 9 of her family’s multimillion dollar paintings and Angela and her mother in law the Countess (Marcia Gay Harden) also just found out their father was kidnapped. These crazy coincidences lead Fletch down an investigation that brings him into contact with an EDM loving OCD art collector (Kyle MacLachlan), a hilariously aloof neighbor (Annie Mumolo), and his ex newspaper buddy Frank Jaffe (John Slattery).
Chevy Chase’s Fletch acted like he was God’s greatest gift to mankind, willfully putting himself first in every conversation he’s having in that film. I personally like Hamm’s version better. He dials down the cockiness but somehow retains just enough of the condescension, so he can slip in a couple verbal assaults without offputting the person he’s talking to. Greg Mottola, the Superbad/Adventureland guy, always brings out the best in his leads, and he finds a use for every great skill Hamm has as an actor. When he has to smarm his way into something we get Million Dollar Arm Hamm, when he needs to be a suave romantic we get a piece of the Mad Men guy, but then dip right into the Bridesmaid guy, undercutting all his goodwill with something dumb and stupid. Comedically, Mottola lets Hamm generate laughs through dialogue, through incredible reaction shots, and through funny physical outfits and Italian scooter gags, but nothing too over the top so he can be the leading man and glue the movie needs him to be.
Hamm’s take on Fletch allows the rest of the cast to cook around him and dial it up, letting Hamm just react to the proceedings, gleefully sharing the screen for comedy gold. The two best scene partners are Annie Mumolo and Marcia Gay Harden. Mumolo essentially dons the Chevy Chase persona content to talk about herself but not pay any attention to any of her surroundings, to total comedic delight. And then there’s Harden, using a hilariously bad Italian accent on purpose and throwing herself at “Flesh” as she calls him, taking full advantage of her rich privilege. Roy Wood Jr. and Ayden Mayeri find the perfect adversarial but dumb relationship with Fletch, as the upper hand in the investigation vacillates between Fletch and the cops. And the John Slattery/Hamm scenes made me wish they just redid Mad Man as a comedy, busting each other’s balls along the way. Kyle MacLachlan and Lucy Punch don’t have a lot to do, but they enjoys the ultra specific character traits the movie crafted for them. In general, you can feel the good vibes on set, as everyone onscreen is having a ball simply being as funny as possible.
It’s been rough sledding for studio comedies the past 10ish years, mostly because there hasn’t been a lot to laugh about. Confess, Fletch hopefully is signaling an end to the drama and bleakness, and a willingness to laugh again. Plus, let’s get Greg Mottola back working with great comedians yeah? Cause when he does, there’s a real chance we get another McLovin.