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Fletch (1985)

by on 2011/04/09

“It’s all ball bearings nowadays. Now you prepare that Fetzer valve with some 3-in-1 oil and some gauze pads.”

* * *

An Open Letter To My Teenage Self:

Dear Tiny Grusha,

Hello, it is I – Grushenka from the future. You’ll never believe how old I am. It’s crazy.

It turns out you are absolutely right about grownups, they aren’t as smart as you are. Not in the slightest. They are also as completely joyless as you currently believe.

In fact, it is even worse than you suspect. I did find out why though. It turns out jobs are a lot like high school. Who knew?

Speaking of being old, I tend to forget all sorts of things these days.

Please don’t freak out – but I’ve forgotten why I found Fletch so very funny.

See? I told you that you would freak out.

I know you think this Chevy Chase vehicle about an investigative reporter with a serious case of terminal sarcasm is absolutely brilliant. You also think this film directed by Michael Ritchie was a lovely combination murder mystery, crime thriller and Saturday Night Live (SNL)-grade sketch comedy.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, I’m no longer as amused as I once was by wigs and fake teeth. It sucks.

Also in the future, people will briefly stop liking Chevy Chase. Something to do with a terrible talk show and being a jerk. He’s probably not a jerk but the talk show was objectively, empirically terrible. I know this is hard to hear.

Chase will however take a role as an aged continuing education student at a mediocre community college in a terrific TV show called Community and he will be redeemed. You know, at least for me. And probably for a lot of other people as well, I do tend to keep to myself these days.

Chevy Chase, playing I. M. Fletcher, ad libbed a lot of his lines. It seemed to you to be the very height of unflappable cool. Remember this one?: “I’m afraid I’m gonna have to pull rank on you. I didn’t want to have to do this. I’m with the Mattress Police. There are no tags on these mattresses.” Ok, that was a pretty funny scene with the scary rural guy and the shot-gun, I admit.

How about this one when Chase is asked by a nurse if he needs anything: “Yeah, do you have the Beatles’ White Album? Never mind, just get me a glass of hot fat.”

I know you will be inspired to try out these surreal, sarcastic one-liners in the mirror. Warning: you will try this in real life. You will be beaten up. Badly. This will build your character, or feed your paranoia. I forget which.

I guess the sarcasm got Fletch in trouble too. There is all kinds of trouble – first, when he’s undercover as a junkie on Los Angeles’ drug-ridden beaches and then when he’s offered a gig to kill a wealthy man (Tim Matheson) suffering from “bone cancer.”  Chevy Chase infiltrates the man’s exclusive golf and country club, meets his wife Gail Stanwyk (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson), and flies to Utah to get the real story.

I know you think Gail Stanwyk is pretty but her hair makes absolutely no sense to me now. I’m sorry.

Did you know that Geena Davis who played the most thankless role in the movie – the character of Larry, the pretty newspaper researcher – is a now a member of Mensa and Olympics archery team semi-finalist? Life is strange, I agree.

I wish I was more like you. I really enjoyed the simple things back then. A grown man in a flowing robe, fake beard and roller skates was high hilarity. Not anymore.

Be careful out there. And remember, mom was wrong: expiry dates on food are very important. Never make your own wine. And marriage is just as bad an idea as you think it is. Worse. You’ll see what I mean.

Miss you,


* * *

98 minutes

Rated 14A for Chevy Chase in white tennis shorts and near fatal levels of sarcasm

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