Jon Hamm faces what may be his greatest acting challenge since he was cast in Mad Men's infamous comeo as Gabriel in Good Omens. In films, he tends to be unsmiling and weary, often a little menacing.
The recurring scene about Fletch's perpetual barefootingness is one of the few moments in which Confess and Fletch saddle its leading actor with material that feels a bit too shaky for his comedic instincts to sell. Otherwise, the film is a belated cinematic star turn for a performer who has tended to choose and choose supporting roles rather than pursuing George Clooney's TV-to-movie fame. Maybe it's just been missing the kind of insight
In the little-seen but funny comedy Keeping Up With the Joneses, Hamm leaned into his mans-man qualities, playing a super-spy imposing as a suburban neighbor to a genuinely mundane couple played by Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher. Joneses has the slapstick action sequences that are hallmark of this kind of neighbor comedy. Fletch arrives at a Boston townhouse rented on his behalf and discovers a corpse.
Fletch is urged to keep away from the murder investigation while also trying to discover the location of some valuable paintings for his new girlfriend, Angela (Lorenza Izzo). Various colorful characters float in and out of the story, as appropriate to a comic mystery.
Chevy Chase played Fletch in two well-received comedy films (Fletch Lives) and one poorly-reported sequel (Fletch Lives): Jason Lee, Ben Affleck, Zach Braff, and/or Jason Sudeikis have been considered as replacements for the abortive Fletch character.
The way Hamms' reimagining of the series is getting a halfhearted dual release in several theaters and on VOD shows how little faith Miramax has in the project. The film, though, nevertheless claims to be short and sweet, while still entertaining the kind of comedy grown-up moviegoers used to see a lot more often than they do today. Confess, Fletch is refreshing, not just for how it uses comedy.
Mottola, who directed Superbad and Adventureland, likes to shoot comedies as if they're actual movies, rather than sitcoms that're overwritten. The film's pacific prose is a sombre beauty, while the cuts and reaction shots have a no-fuss consistency that reminds Steven Soderbergh in his more traditional deadpan mode. At times, the film's broader interludes might stand to be repressed a bit more.
Hamm, on the other hand, appears to be on the safe side of Mottolas' lines. He believes that finding the common ground between mystery and farce might be more important than sprinkling individual jokes. In this film, he is equally adept at slapstick silliness and responding to his co-stars' silliness, as he is when Bridesmaids writer-actor Annie Mumolo bounces off of him in one scene.
Mottola went so far as to co-create a brief, crackling reunion with Hamms Mad Men co-star John Slattery, indicating that he is confident about Hamms' TV talent, even if few other directors seem to be on board. They appear to be making the half silly, half silly movie they want to see.
Confess, Fletch will be available on Amazon and Vudu on the same day on demand or for premium digital rental in limited quantities.