Jon Hamm faces what may be his greatest acting challenge since his portrayal of Don Draper on Mad Men. He has played goofy roles in cameos and Saturday Night Live sketches, and he has parodied his own image as Gabriel in Good Omens. In movies, he is adamantly unsmiling and weary, often a little menacing.
The constant barefootedness is one of the few moments where Confess and Fletch saddle its leading actor with material that feels a little too shaky for his comedic instincts to sell. Otherwise, the film is a belated cinematic star turn for a performer who has tended to pick and choose supporting roles rather than pursuing George Clooney-style TV-to-movie fame. Maybe it's just been missing the kind of insight writer-director Greg Mottola brings to
In the little-seen but funny comedy Keeping Up With the Joneses, the actor leaned into his mans-man personality, playing a super-spy improbably posing as a suburban neighbor to a genuinely mundane couple played by Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher. Joneses has the slapstick action sequences that distinguish Hamm and Mottola. Fletch arrives at a Boston townhouse rented on his behalf and discovers a corpse.
Fletch is able to immediately contact the cops, but this does not relieve him of suspicion. Detective Monroe (Roy Wood Jr.) is a stubborn cop, who is still trying to find valuable paintings for his new girlfriend Angela (Lorenza Izzo). Various colorful characters flit in and out of the story, as befitting a comic mystery.
Chevy Chase played Fletch in two well-known films in the 1980s, one ill-received sequel (Fletch Lives). Since then, many actors and directors have considered reprising the role of Abortive Fletch.
The way Hamms' reboot of the series is getting a halfhearted dual release in several theaters and on VOD implies Miramax's lack of interest. The film, however, affirms this. It's fleet and funny, like the kind of comedy grown-up moviegoers used to see a lot more often today. But Confess, Fletch is refreshing, not just for how it uses Jon Hamm.
Mottola, who co-created Superbad and Adventureland, loves to shoot comedies as if they are real movies, rather than overly sarcastic sitcoms. The editing and reaction shots here have a no-fuss consistency that reminds Steven Soderbergh of his more deceptive style. At times, the film could stand to hold its plot longer and indulge in its oddball comic characters, like The Big Lebowski.
Hamm, on the other hand, seems to be on Mottolas' wavelength. He recognizes that finding the common ground between mystery and farce might be more important than resolving individual jokes. In this film, he is equally adept at slapstick silliness and responding to his co-stars' jokes, as he is when Bridesmaids writer-actor Annie Mumolo bounces off of him in a single scene.
Mottola went so far as to rekindle a brief, crackling reunion with Hamms Mad Men co-star John Slattery, indicating that the filmmaker is confident about Hamms's TV work, even if few other directors seem to be on board. They appear to be making exactly the kind of half-joke, half-joke film they want to see.
Confess, Fletch will be available on Amazon and Vudu on the same day of demand or for premium digital rentals in the United States.