Photo courtesy Miramax

Sometimes an actor and character are so intertwined that it seems impossible to imagine anyone else playing the part.

In the 1980s, Chevy Chase was Fletch, the smart-aleck investigative reporter that got by on his charm and quick wit.

Chase played Fletch to such perfection across two movies that even though the character was the star of several best-selling novels, no one dared making a Fletch movie without Chase for the better part of 30 years.

Now, after all that time, John Hamm has stepped up to the challenge in “Confess, Fletch” and I’ll be darned if he doesn’t pull it off.

Hamm is a sneakily brilliant casting choice in that he’s a good enough actor that he’s able to find his own way into the character without doing a Chase impersonation and he’s got some seriously underrated comedy chops thanks to most people knowing him as the deadly serious Don Draper on “Mad Men.”

The plot of “Confess, Fletch” is a silly, convoluted lark. Fletch is bumming around Europe when he gets involved with an Italian heiress Angela (Lorenza Izzo) who wants him to track down some stolen paintings being asked for as ransom for her kidnapped father.

The trail leads Fletch to Boston, but when he arrives at his apartment, he discovers a murdered woman and all of the evidence pointing to him as the killer.

The mystery at the heart of “Confess, Fletch” is the movie’s weak link and secondary to the joy of watching Hamm’s Fletch bounce off of an excellent supporting cast of oddball characters.

When he’s not aggravating the exasperated Detective Monroe (Roy Wood Jr.) and his rookie partner Griz (Ayden Mayeri), Fletch is avoiding the seductive wiles of Angela’s stepmother (Marcia Gay Harden having a ball with her Italian accent), keeping close watch on shady art broker Horan (Kyle MacLachlan, who will be weird in your movie) or catching up with his old buddy, the caustic newspaper editor Frank (Hamm’s old “Mad Men” compatriot John Slattery; reunited and it feels so good).

Hamm brings a more laid-back, goofy vibe to Fletch as a dude constantly in over his head who never doubts for a second that he’s going to land on his feet.

“Confess, Fletch” is directed by Greg Mattola who is much better at setting up funny interactions between characters than he is at navigating the ins and outs of a murder mystery.

Even still, this is a solid effort and has me hoping there’s a healthy future for this character. Fletch lives and Hamm deserves all the credit in the world for bringing him back to life.  

“Confess, Fletch” is rated R for language, some sexual content and drug use.

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