Time to Confess What I Thought About ‘Confless, Fletch’!

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So many confessions, so little time (CREDIT: Miramax/Paramount)

Starring: Jon Hamm, Roy Wood Jr., Lorenza Izzo, Ayden Mayeri, Marcia Gay Harden, Kyle MacLachlan, John Slattery, Annie Mumolo, John Behlmann

Director: Greg Mottola

Running Time: 98 Minutes

Rating: R for Some Gunfire and a Little Bit of Wacky Horniness

Release Date: September 16, 2022 (Theaters and On Demand)

What’s It About?: Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher is back! But did he ever really go away? Well, yeah, kind of. Chevy Chase played him in a couple of outings in the 80s, but they haven’t really left much of a lasting cultural impression on the younger generations. If you’re wondering how Jon Hamm could ever take over a part made famous by Mr. Pratfall-in-Chief, be assured that it doesn’t matter. The version of this slippery investigative reporter we meet in Confess, Fletch hardly resembles the white guy who sported an Afro wig and a Lakers jersey. He bumbles around a bit, but so would just about anyone who gets accused of murder in a case of mistaken identity. Anyway, Fletch sets out to clear his name and interacts with a bunch of wacky characters along the way. But, you may be wondering, are they wacky enough?

What Made an Impression?: There are a few early scenes in Confess, Fletch in which Hamm seems to be trying to summon his inner Chevy Chase, and I’m like, “I don’t know if that’s a good idea.” Sure, he can be funny despite his preternatural handsomeness, but it’s not of the crash-into-everything, smart aleck variety. What he can nail is the psychopath lurking underneath the pristine surface. But ultimately he’s not asked to deliver either of these personas. Instead, he’s more of the straight man reacting to all the chaos around him (in various flavors of cockamamie from the likes of Annie Mumolo, Marcia Gary Harden, and Kyle MacLachlan). Hamm can certainly provide that competently, but it’s hardly spectacular. Which pretty much describes this movie as a whole.

But one actor does shine especially bright, and that would be Ayden Mayeri, who’s having quite the breakout year, along with her turns in Spin Me Round and Apple TV+’s The Afterparty. She’s one of the two detectives (alongside Roy Wood Jr.) on Fletch’s tail, and at first it seems like she’s playing your typical flummoxed, overmatched authority figure. But she knows what she’s doing, despite her bouts of clumsiness. Sure, she may spill a milkshake all over her shirt, but her investigative instincts are sharp. She gets a big “thank you” from Fletch at the end, and I’m happy to second that sentiment.

Confess, Fletch is Recommended If You Like: Fidelity to source material that’s not super famous

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Lakers Caps

The Writers of ‘Bridesmaids’ Ramp Up the Delightful Absurdity in ‘Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar’

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Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (CREDIT: Lionsgate/YouTube Screenshot)

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Jamie Dornan, Damon Wayans Jr., Michael Hitchock, Reyn Doi, Kwame Patterson, Vanessa Bayer, Fortune Feimster, Rose Abdoo, Phyllis Smith, Wendi McClendon-Covey, Richard Cheese

Director: Josh Greenbaum

Running Time: 107 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Very Playful (and Kind of Explicit) Sexual Dialogue

Release Date: February 12, 2021 (On Demand)

A young boy in a canary yellow hat rides his bike down a picturesque suburban street while delivering newspapers and singing along to “Guilty,” the 1980 Barbra Streisand/Barry Gibb smooth jazz duet. Encountering a robot owl, he heads purposefully underground into a world of intrigue. A super-secret, super-important mission appears to be afoot. And that’s when we meet Barb and Star (Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, respectively), two fortysomething best friends who appear to have absolutely nothing to do with everything we’ve seen up to this point. Instead, they spend their days gabbing away about whatever absurd notions pop into their heads while sitting on one of the showroom couches at the furniture store where they work. But alas, horror of horrors: the store is closing forever, and Barb and Star have no idea what to do with all their newfound free time! They could hang out at their rigidly regimented friend group gabfest (run by a fantastically tightly wound Vanessa Bayer), but then an opportunity comes knocking in the form of a vacation to the resort town of Vista Del Mar. They’ve never been the type to venture outside their hometowns, but heckfire, what better time than now to throw caution to the wind and spread their wings!

Often when reviewing movies, I like to ask myself, “Does this film make me want to do the thing it says in its title?” So with that in mind, does Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar make me want to go to Vista Del Mar? And the answer is … heck yeah! It’s a beachside town full of bright colors, romance, magic, and Mark Jonathan Davis as his lounge act persona Richard Cheese singing naughty songs in a hotel lobby, after all. And if I could spend my stay there right alongside Barb and Star and their versatile culottes, oh wow, would I be in hog heaven. The world has made no effort to stop them from being who they really are, and their conversations reflect that, as Wiig and Mumolo bring an astounding improvisatory yes-and energy to every single one of their interactions.

There’s also so many more elements in this movie that I haven’t mentioned yet, mostly because I don’t want to mention them, as this is the most satisfyingly unpredictable comedy I have seen in quite some time. Wiig and Mumolo co-wrote the screenplay, and it feels like a passion project of two best friends daring each other to indulge in their most outré excesses. Playing straight(-ish) man to their whirligig of whimsy is Jamie Dornan, who seems to have found his perfect niche as a lovelorn hopeless romantic agent of espionage. Also of note: Wiig pulls double duty as a supervillian best left unremarked upon, Damon Wayans Jr. shows up for a running gag of very silly inadvertent secret-revealing, and Barb and Star’s conversations about a hypothetical woman named “Trish” eventually pay off handsomely. In conclusion, this is one of those funny flicks that delights me immediately and endlessly, but I’m not quite sure how to fully put into words why it makes me feel that way (the last few paragraphs notwithstanding). But I hope to continually revisit it and think about it much more in the coming years and then explain it as best I can when the proper time comes along.

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is Recommended If You Like: Zoolander, Hot Rod, AM Radio hits of the 70s

Grade: 4 out of 5 Seafood Jams