Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Can We Trust Somebody Who Doesn't "Get" FLETCH?

As a big fan of the original series of Fletch novels written by Gregory McDonald, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the wildly popular film version starring Chevy Chase as investigative reporter Irwin Fletcher.

Like most films based on books the moviemakers get it kinda right. Chase does a decent job of channeling Fletch's snarky attitude but I've always felt the flick was too light, too smug, too flip – and I cringe at that Lakers dream sequence every time I see it.

But I had to wonder about any critic who would call the flick – out now on a new Special Edition DVD – "all but unwatchably bad." Worse still, the writer delivers observations that teeter on the incredibly obvious ("his pleasant demeanor masks the condescending jackass within") and then suggests that the members of Delta House from the truly classic ANIMAL HOUSE are, gulp, conservatives?

For more on that incredibly off-the-mark comment, check out Gary Susman's reply from the Entertainment Weekly pop blog.

While one writer hates FLETCH and another thinks it's one of the funniest things Chase ever did (praise akin to proclaiming someone the best-looking Kennedy girl or thinnest kid at fat camp), I fall somewhere in the middle. Yes, FLETCH gave me a lifelong appreciation for Dana Wheeler Nicholson and lines like "Charge it to the Underhill's" and "Using the whole fist there doc?" come in handy on occasion, but I would have liked for the comedic-mystery to have had more of the latter and less of Chase's "look at me" smugness.

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