Obviously a movie like Confess, Fletch can’t be watched outside of the context of the book or the earlier movies. Fortunately, I’ve never read the book and haven’t seen the Chevy Chase movies in more than 20 years (which is probably a good thing, since I have mildly fond memories of the old movies and I suspect that fondness wouldn’t remain if I were to go back and watch them again). Which means I kind-of get to watch this movie on its own with only a vague knowledge of the canon it’s adding to.
And, as far as that goes, it was a fine movie. Not a great movie, not a terrible movie, just an okay one. [Probably some spoilers from here on out.] The plot is kind-of simple: Fletch comes into his Air BnB and finds a dead body. He calls the police and promptly becomes the prime suspect in an apparently art-related crime. His wealthy heiress girlfriend, her Countess gold-digging step mother, the homeowner and his ex-wife, local art dealer/Harvard adjunct
Dale Cooper Ronald Horan, and weirdo neighbor Eve are all somehow involved and possibly suspects.
As far as it goes, the mystery is pretty well done. While there aren’t any real curveballs, they do leave it somewhat up in the air as to who the murderer is and what the motive was until the big reveal. Likewise the humor mostly lands well–it helps that the film is exceptionally well cast and the actors all do the best they can with the script they’ve got. The weak part here is the writing. And here I’ll have to guess a bit, but based on what I’ve heard about the book the main character in the novel is a very… 1970’s… man. That is, he sleeps with anything that moves, isn’t afraid of substances, has no respect for anything, and still solves the crime. That combination of things obviously isn’t going to play as well in the post-Me Too era. This isn’t a bad thing other than it affects the attempt to turn a 1970s book into a 2020s movie. The characteristics of a 1970s lead haven’t really been replaced by anything, and the plot and humor, while good, aren’t quite strong enough to make up the difference for a lack of strong charcter.
From a Christian point of view, Confess Fletch is a film that represents the transitional time film is in. As a demographic that is for all intents and purposes outside of what’s going on in Hollywood these days (and that’s not automatically a bad thing), we should be keeping an eye on the culture as it tries to feel its way towards a coherent metanarrative. We need to celebrate and enjoy the times when the culture manages to find something true, mourn when they embrace falsehood, and admit when something is just an okay and average representation of what’s going on in film. Confess Fletch is just such a representation.