A veritable chameleon, investigative reporter Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher might drive his editor up the wall, but he always produces great pieces for the newspaper. When his next story is about the drug trade taking place on the beach, Fletch goes undercover as a homeless man. Unaware of Fletch's true identity, businessman Alan Stanwyk offers Fletch $50,000 to kill him. Intrigued, Fletch decides to unearth the full story behind the offer.
Fletch is one of the great cult classics of the 80’s. Set as a crime/mystery film, it also wound up being a comedy and that feels somewhat intentional. Fletch is a film that takes itself seriously; there are not purposeful jokes scattered around like in Stripes or Uncle Buck. Fletch (the character) is a comical man but that is pretty much expected since it is Chevy Chase. We do not see him in a diehard comedy role here like in Caddyshack or Christmas Vacation, but it is still Chevy Chase. Comedy is what he knows how to do and that results in Fletch being a wisecracker. If a different actor had played the character, this could have been a thriller instead of a comedy.
Chevy Chase plays the character well and, in a way, plays multiple roles. As an investigative journalist, Fletch uses disguises to get information for his stories in the papers. We see him successfully using multiple disguises throughout the film as he delves deeper into the mystery. Granted, being a little too good at his disguises is what gets Fletch into this mess in the first place. And even throughout multiple personas, his one-liners persist and keep audiences entertained.
As far as mysteries go, Fletch is a more light-hearted film. There is a nefarious scheme here, but it is not something with major consequences if the heroes fail. Think less Goldfinger and more North by Northwest. The mix of classic crime/mystery with Chevy Chase’s touch of comedy really makes this film unique. That being said, you do need to be a fan of Chevy Chase and his dry sense of humor to fully enjoy the movie. It would be a stretch to say his quips are comedic gold, but his dialogue is very well written here.
Fletch is not as well known as Caddyshack or the Vacation movies, but it is certainly on par with them. If anything, Fletch is Chevy Chase’s best work (I personally think his only other film that can compete with it is Christmas Vacation). Again, this was not really intended to be a comedy. But Chevy Chase is Chevy Chase. He is one of those actors where you can do whatever you want to him, you could dress him in a suit and have him as a straight-faced lawyer, but at the end of the day it is still Chevy Chase. And that is what made Fletch really work as a cult classic (unintentional) comedy.