R. Lee Ermey
I remember the exact moment Chevy Chase ceased being funny to me. I was 11 years old, a big fan of the VACATION movies, had just watched CADDYSHACK for the first time and was eagerly sitting down to his latest film, MAN OF THE HOUSE. After he found me two hours later, sobbing in the fetal position and cursing the name Jonathan Taylor Thomas, my dad took me aside and gave me the talk that signals every boy’s departure from childhood: what happened to Chevy Chase’s career.
Thankfully, FLETCH is old Chevy Chase, the good Chevy Chase. It’s not his best movie or role (Ty Webb gets that distinction), but it does showcase his strengths as a one time comedian. Irwin Fletcher is perhaps the best example of bone dry, nearly unrecognizable humor. Within ten seconds of screen time, Chase may have thrown out five or six one-liners or random non-sequiturs that, if you’re apt to catch them all, will keep you chuckling constantly. Not to mention the man’s impressive ability to say things like, “My car just hit a water buffalo” or “It’s me, Dr. Rosenpenis” and keep a straight face.
Like with any comedy, your enjoyment of FLETCH will depend on your sense of humor. There’s some obvious jokes and physical comedy, such as the tape recorder gag and, of course, “Mooooon Riiiiver…” However, the film’s real strengths lie in the subtle moments: Fletch’s version of Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night,” his nonsensical Spanish responses, and his faith in the power of ball bearings. Some of these jokes border on being random just for the sake of, but there are many more hits than misses. And packaged with a predictable but fun detective story and one of the catchiest 80s synth soundtracks, FLETCH makes for a breezy escape to a time when Chevy Chase was more CADDYSHACK than COPS & ROBBERSONS.
Irony. This is the movie has killed the FLETCH franchise and continues to murder it dead nearly 20 years later.
I don’t think there’s a single thing that really stands out from FLETCH LIVES from a humor standpoint, especially when compared with the original. There’s maybe a humorous quip here or there, but no scene or one liner stayed with me after I turned it off. The culprit here: the script. Using an original idea instead of one of Greg MacDonald’s many (and much better) stories, the whole thing feels sloppy and thrown together. Fletch’s aunt’s lawyer, who he had a one night stand with after two lines of dialogue, is murdered and that’s enough plot to carry a movie? Though Chase plays the same fun, smart ass character, there’s nothing to back him up, leaving him out to dry. Instead you get random BS and cardboard cutout characters, most of whom never really matter in the big scheme of things. Why is that lady on the airplane given lines? To annoy me? And is there a reason for the random musical dream sequence with animated characters? I sure couldn’t tell you.
I like watching R. Lee Ermey in any and everything, SAVING SILVERMAN included. But his evangelical preacher character here could’ve been utilized in a much better fashion. And besides Ermey, there’s not much else worth noting in this movie. Maybe famed tough guy Randall “Tex” Cobb (Leonard Smalls from RAISING ARIZONA) in woman’s makeup?
Making and Remembering Fletch (26:33): A retrospective hosted by an annoying DVD producer and featuring interviews from the crew and supporting cast, all of whom talk about the noticeably absent star of the movie. And to rub it in, they show pictures from deleted scenes, but none of them are included on the DVD.
The Disguises (4:56): A quick look at some of Fletch’s outlandish personas (John Cocktoastin FTW!), including interviews from random makeup artists and costume designers.
Favorite FLETCH Moments (2:39): A montage of random scenes from the movie can hardly be considered an extra.
The Theatrical Trailer and Reccomendations.
Extra Tidbit: The late, great Phil Hartman has a thankless role as a plant manager in FLETCH LIVES.