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

This Is a Movie Review: ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ is Just as Boring as Its Predecessors, But More Histrionic and Pointless

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CREDIT: Universal Pictures

This review was originally posted on News Cult in February 2018.

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Max Martini, Brant Daugherty, Arielle Kebbel, Fay Masterson, Luke Grimes, Eloise Mumford, Rita Ora, Marcia Gay Harden, Tyler Hoechlin, Hiro Kanagawa

Director: James Foley

Running Time: 105 Minutes

Rating: R for The Usual T&A, Sometimes Involving Ice Cream, Plus a Climactic Gunshot

Release Date: February 9, 2018

Fifty Shades Freed is just as boring as the rest of the Grey/Steele saga, and the whole S&M hook has ceased to be a big deal ever since the first entry was released. It’s not like it was ever that big a deal in the first place, though enough people were titillated by the promise of transgression to result in a phenomenon. But now that the aftershocks are nowhere near as explosive, what is the point? With Christian (Jamie Dornan) and Ana (Dakota Johnson) comfortably married, the whole frisson of inappropriateness is eliminated, and all Fifty Shades Freed has to fall back on is a fairly boilerplate tale of revenge and kidnapping.

The troubles that apparently drive the action involve Ana’s former boss Jack (Eric Johnson), who blames her for his firing, so he resorts to stalking to exact his revenge. There is never any tension that suggests that Jack will not be dispatched by the end or that it makes it thrilling at all in the moment. From a narrative standpoint, it exists, I guess, so that Christian can save Ana, thus solving any and all current and future marital troubles. Because the thing is, the struggles between the two of them have little to do with the parameters of their kinkiness and everything to do with emotional maturity or lack thereof. Christian is overly controlling and protective, and hilariously unprepared for the prospect of being a father. I worry about the long-term viability of this union, not because a possibility for abuse, but rather because any fundamental compatibility is just not there, and the shallow picture-perfect ending cannot convince me otherwise.

While the sex scenes are essentially window-dressing at this point, they are still the main attraction (along with the luxury travel porn). There is certainly some excitement to being in a crowded theater as the camera almost zooms in on a hardcore reveal. But if you are going to venture out to see this sort of action instead of pulling it up on your computer, there ought to be some romance leading up to it. But the two leads have just never managed to summon any significant chemistry.  Johnson is perpetually unsure what kind of movie she is in, alternating playing it straight with occasionally venturing a mildly subversive line reading that would fit a version of this movie that makes fun of itself. Dornan, meanwhile, sleepwalks through the whole thing. Arielle Kebbel, as an architect who gets a little too flirty with Christian, is the only one to zero in on a satisfyingly campy tone, but she is barely utilized. All this confusion is inherent to a traditional center attempting to be transgressive.

Fifty Shades Freed is Recommended If You Like: Porn Minus the Romance, Melodramatic Revenge Plots

Grade: 1.5 out of 5 Boobs in Boobland