Brooks, Fletch review: Jon Hamm finally finds a great comedic role

Brooks, Fletch review: Jon Hamm finally finds a great comedic role

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Spring-Stamped New Mystery Comedy Brooks, Fletch, Jon Hamm faces what may be his greatest acting challenge ever: playing a man who despises shoes. Admittedly, the man who became famous as Don Draper on crazy men hasn’t always been dressed as well in movies as in that near-perfect show. In Brooks, FletchAs “reputable investigative reporter” Irwin Maurice Fletcher, he’s still further than usual from Hamm’s slick image. Hamm has played crazy roles in cameos and Saturday Night Live sketches, and he has parodied his own image as Gabriel in Good omens. But in movies, he’s usually unsmiling and tired, often a little menacing. In Brooks, Fletchhe takes off his shoes and socks at every opportunity and makes a pet matter of what he sees as society’s pro-footwear propaganda — all because he’s suspected of murder.

The running gag about Fletch’s perpetual barefooting is one of the few times when… Brooks, Fletch saddles his protagonist with material that feels a little too shitty to sell his comedic instincts. Otherwise, the film is a late cinematic star twist for an artist who tends to pick and choose supporting roles, rather than pursuing George Clooney-style TV-to-film prestige. Maybe Hamm’s movie career wasn’t as underdressed as it seems. Maybe it just lacked the kind of insight writer-director Greg Mottola brings to build a story around what Hamm is best at.

Mottola has directed Hamm before, in the little-seen but funny comedy Keeping up with the Joneses. There, the star leaned into his husband’s image, playing a super spy who impossibly posed as a suburban neighbor to a truly mundane couple played by Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher. Joneses has the slapstick action scenes that characterize this kind of neighborly comedy. Brooks, Fletch moves at a more relaxed pace that suits both Hamm and Mottola better. After Fletch flies to the US from a jaunt (and whirlwind romance) in Rome, Fletch arrives at a Boston mansion rented on his behalf – and finds a body there.

Photo: Robert Clark/Miramax

He immediately calls the police, but that does not relieve him of suspicion. His honest but overly quick responses to interrogations test the patience of the otherwise tenacious Detective Monroe (Roy Wood Jr.). Warned to stay away from the murder case, Fletch continues to launch an amateur investigation, while also trying to discover the location of some valuable paintings for his new girlfriend, Angela (Lorenza Izzo). Several colorful characters flutter in and out of the story, as befits a comic mystery.

Brooks, Fletch is based on Gregory McDonald’s novel of the same name, part of a long-running book series. Comedy fans may remember that Chevy Chase played Fletch in the 1980s, in a well-received comedy (fletch) and a poorly regarded sequel (Fletch is alive). Since then, numerous actors and directors have considered rebooting the character: Abortive Fletch projects have featured casting Jason Lee, Ben Affleck, Zach Braff, and/or Jason Sudeikis in the role.

The way Hamm’s revival of the series is getting a half-hearted double release in some theaters and on VOD suggests how little faith Miramax has in the project. However, the film says otherwise. It’s smooth and funny – the kind of comedy grown-up moviegoers used to see much more often than they do today. Comedies have fallen out of favor in a cinematic landscape more devoted to Liam Neeson-style revenge films, but Brooks, Fletch is refreshing not only for how it uses comedy, but also for how it uses Jon Hamm.

Mottola (who also made Super bad and Adventure Land) has a knack for making comedies as if they were real movies, rather than overexposed sitcoms. He doesn’t sacrifice visual humor for the sake of aesthetics. His work here with cinematographer Sam Levy has a dusky glow, while the cuts and reaction shots have a no-fuse steadfastness reminiscent of Steven Soderbergh in his more deadpan mode. Sometimes the movie could bear to keep its plot at a greater distance and enjoy its atmosphere a little more, like The long goodbyeor in his eccentric cartoon characters, such as The Big Lebowski. On the other hand, some of the film’s wider interludes fall a bit flat – mainly Marcia Gay Harden’s role as Angela’s mother with a cartoonish accent, an unstoppable character who could take a little more oppression.

Jon Hamm looks rather shabby in a yacht club blazer at an outdoor party in Confess, Fletch

Photo: Miramax

Hamm, on the other hand, seems to be right on Mottola’s wavelength. He understands that finding the common ground between mystery and farce may be more important than scoring with individual jokes. Hamm has long telegraphed his interest in comedic roles, and in this film he proves himself just as capable of slapstick silliness and responding to the follies of his co-stars, as when he bridesmaids writer-actor Annie Mumolo bounces off him in one scene. He can also handle jokes and irreverence (“The emergency part is over,” he tells the police about the murder) without turning into a Ryan Reynolds-esque smart machine.

Hamm’s film career has largely been overshadowed by his brilliant long-term work as Don Draper, and Brooks, Fletch wasn’t designed to change that. Mottola even went so far as to host a short, sizzling reunion with Hamm’s crazy men co-star John Slattery. The director’s willingness to actively remind viewers of Hamm’s TV masterpiece, even as the star wanders around wearing a Lakers cap and solving a vague mystery, suggests Mottola has faith in Hamm’s draw as a comedian, even though few others seem to have it. directors on board. Mottola and Hamm don’t seem to be trying to rewrite Hamm in the image of Fletch, or vice versa. They look more like they’re making exactly the half silly, half cunning movie they want to see in person.

Brooks, Fletch opens in limited release in theaters on September 16, and is available the same day on demand or for premium digital rental on Amazon and vudu.

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