The Scoop: 1989 PG, directed by Michael Ritchie and starring Chevy Chase, Hal Holbrook, and Julianne Phillips
Tagline: When there’s more trouble than one man can handle…there’s more than one man for the job.
Summary Capsule: Fletch inherits some southern real estate, but gets caught up in a murder mystery.
Justin’s Rating: Don’t cry for me, Chevy Chase!
Justin’s Review: It always amazes me how much movies can get away with making fun of the south. If I were to solely rely on cinema and never actually visit the deep south (I haven’t, at least not willingly), I would believe the following things: (1) all southerners are about 100 years behind the times socially and politically, (2) the law enforcement uses Nazi training videos, (3) the most fun to be had is either shooting at innocent animals or sleeping with your cousin, and (4) all southerners can be outduped by any visitor from north of the Mason-Dixon line. The south never has interested me much, past a slightly wacky grammar teacher I had in college who was adamant that the south would rise yet again to conquer us pagan Yankees.
So why this meandering introduction to Fletch Lives? Well, 97% of the film takes place in the deep south (Louisiana, to be precise), and that’s a major strike against my interest. But no matter, we got a sequel, and that brings me to point two in my seventeen-point lecture. You see, sequels get a bad rap, because most of the time they just aren’t as good as the original. True. I do agree. However, I must also rise in defense of these poor, orphaned sequeled films. I view it like publicity: a bad sequel is better than no sequel at all. Why complain about a bad sequel; at least we get to see our favorite characters once more (or, in the case of Police Academy, until they all die from selling out). If you don’t like the sequel, just don’t watch it.
Fletch Lives was neither a true disappointment or a real success — it just floundered somewhere in the middle. All of the major characters return (with the notable exception of Fletch’s floozy Geena Davis assistant), only to send Fletch (Chevy Chase) across the country to claim his family fortune on a southern plantation. He lands waist-deep in yet another murder-scandal, and only through undercover tactics can he redeem his karma. Probably the most entertaining part of his explorations is when Fletch unmasks a televangelist studio.
I got a really weird feeling after seeing Fletch Lives. Some would say it was the brain parasite burrowing in deeper, but finally I realized: this is some sort of bastard step-son of Blazing Saddles! Here’s another movie that deals with backwards rednecks, KKK wizards, and Cleavon Little (who played Bart in Blazing Saddles) is back in another law enforcement role. It’s really spooky, I tells ya!
As for the movie itself, it definitely is lacking from the first Fletch. For one thing, it really seems like the Chevy Chase character is toned down from his sarcastic demeanor. So many times during this film I just expected him to rip into the rednecks, but for the most part he restrained himself. I don’t want to see restraint in comedy! His disguises are decent, but (other than Harley Davidson himself) are not too inspired. In short, it’s fairly funny, somewhat enjoyable, but needed a boost instead of wallowing down in the bayous of the south. I will stand by my declaration that the location killed this movie more than anything else, but hey, it’s Chevy at the end of his glorious eighties run.
Kyle’s Rating: Accursed sequel! Your existence is blasphemy!
Kyle’s Review: My recollection of childhood events is foggy, takes to repeated sports injuries and late-night vodka and cheese whiz binges. However, I clearly remember sitting in my favorite old theater in Westminster, CO, stunned after viewing Fletch Lives because at my young age I was just learning to grasp that sometimes a great film will be followed by a half-assed dumb sequel. It was quite a harsh lesson to learn, no less demoralizing then finding out a certain fifth-grade schoolyard kiss WAS JUST A TRUTH-OR-DARE TURN ON WHICH SHE CHOSE DARE! Damn you for stealing my heart, you wild haired vixen!
Fletch Lives really hurts because the first film was a pinnacle of greatness for me. I based so much of my life around the exploits of maverick journalist Fletch, as you’ll find out in my upcoming Fletch review. I expected nothing but groovy investigative reporting with a twist from this sequel, but all I got was a few scenes of note and an uncomfortable-to-this-day exchange between Fletch and the heroine over her having to pee. What the ****?!?!
For completion’s sake, if you liked Fletch then talk a friend into renting Fletch Lives and then sit through it once. Chevy Chase is on autopilot through the whole thing and other than trashing television evangelists the movie never really takes advantage of its southern setting. Yes, we know the south is poo and that California is the greatest state on Earth. That’s why CA has the Lakers, cell phones, valet parking and girls who wear bikinis as formal wear, and the south has grits. But if you’re going to rub our noses in how backwards and square the south is, use a better brand of humor! And no weird conversations about peeing! I’m emotionally scarred enough as it is!
- Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma) was highly interested in helping to create Fletch 3. However, after a couple years, the project fell apart – possibly because Smith and Chevy Chase disagreed over how to proceed. It now looks very unlikely that Fletch 3 will ever see the screen.
- Fletch starts humming the theme to the Twilight Zone when he finds a glow-in-the-dark Lakers watch
Fletch: You haven’t lived until you’ve gone on a coon hunt, and after you have, you don’t want to.
Head Foreman: And you are…?
Fletch: I are pissed!
If you liked this movie, try these:
- Funny Farm