Confess, Fletch Book vs Movie Review

written by Laura J.

Confess, Fletch by Gregory McDonald (1976)

Confess, Fletch directed by Greg Mottola (2022)

As someone who watched the Chevy Chase Fletch movies multiple times when I was growing up, I was very interested in seeing this latest film that has Jon Hamm in the role. This movie, as well as the first movie from 1985 have also been on my book vs movie radar but for one reason or another I just hadn’t gotten around to either of them.

But recently I got two emails, one from Dave and another from Olivia requesting I cover the Fletch movies! Dave specifically wanted my to cover the ’85 movie, but hopefully he will like that I covered a movie that is at least affiliated with that one. I still plan to cover the ’85 movie at some point. If that is something that you would like to hear, comment down below and I will do it sooner rather than later!

Book Review

The book Confess, Fletch is actually the second book in the Fletch series (Fletch Lives isn’t based on any book). To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy this book at all. I found it very bland and just didn’t really care who was behind it all. I assume the books are meant to be funny? Seeing as they are adapted into comedies, but I didn’t find it very funny either.

There was nothing about this book that bothered me or anything, so it’s not like I dislike it because I find it offensive. There is actually a female character who was married but leaves her husband when she falls in love with a woman and I didn’t see anything wrong with how that was written. This was the ‘70’s so I wouldn’t have been surprised if it was written in a trashy way or something, but I didn’t think it was.

I also had a hard time following the book, not because it was especially complex, but simply because I was bored and just had a hard time giving it my full attention. I did finish it though, so there’s that.

I know I said I would be willing to cover the first Fletch, which would require me to read another one of these books. TO be honest, that isn’t something I am particularly looking forward to! But these books are fairly short so I would be willing to try the first Fletch book and maybe I would like it better.

Movie review

It is hard not to compare Jon Hamm’s performance with that of Chevy Chase, and you could tell Hamm was trying to mimic some of his mannerisms. He also wears a Lakers hat, which is never mentioned in the book but seems to be an obvious nod to the 80’s Fletch. Overall, I tend to be a fan of Hamm’s comedic performances, but since reading Gabriel Union’s second memoir, I have soured on him a bit. She talks about when he did blackface on 30 Rock and it has been hard to see him the same since. In this movie he has the dry humor like Chase had, and while part of me thinks he is an odd choice to reprise this character, I didn’t think he was bad.

I was happy to see Kyle MacLachlan and Marcia Gay Harden in this, but unfortunately I didn’t find either of them especially funny. I like the scene when MacLachlan’s character is seen through the window dancing to his EDM though.

The funniest character was Annie Mumolo who plays Eve (the Joan equivalent from the book). She is just a chaotic mess when he is at her place and I found the scene very funny.

Oh, and I have to mention John Slattery who plays a former newspaper boss of Fletch’s. As a Man Men fan, it was great to see Hamm and Slattery reunited as boss and employee/friends.

From here on out, there will be spoilers for both the book and movie!

Fletch being in Boston

In both, Fletch is living in Rome where he meets and falls in love with Andy. Andy’s father has a lot of valuable paintings, however they have been stolen. Fletch sees one in a catalog that has sold and goes to the man who sold the painting to figure out who it came from.

In both, his first night there he finds a dead woman in the place he is staying at. In the book he did a home swap, where this Boston guy is staying at Fletch’s place in Rome while Fletch stays at his place in Boston. In the movie it is a rental place Andy set up for him.

Fletch is of course the number one suspect, and he tries to figure out who the real killer is while also trying to figure out where the paintings are.

Also, before he left for Boston, Andy’s father was kidnapped and in the book the kidnappers want a huge sum of money but the family doesn’t have the money and without the paintings they don’t have anything they can sell to pay the ransom. In the movie, the kidnappers don’t say they want money, they say they want the Picasso painting the father had once owned.

The owner of the apartment

In the book, he calls Andy and asks her to go check out his place where this Boston guy is staying. In the book his name was Bart, but in the movie his name was Owen, so I will just call him Owen. She goes over there and ends up staying a while and getting to know Bart. Fletch doesn’t tell her why he wants her to go there, and when he learns she stayed the night he tells her she needs to get out of there because he is a potential murderer. Andy says there is no way he is guilty.

In the movie, Andy had known Owen from when she went to school in Boston but when she gets Fletch the rental, she withholds that it is from a guy she knows. In the movie, Owen is addicted to pills and he comes back to Boston to get different drugs he has stashed.

In the book, Owen’s wife left him for another woman. Fletch talks to the wife and learns that she has a violent streak, and he suspects she killed the woman in the apartment.

In the movie, the wife is a pompous home decorator played by Lucy Punch (she is in Ella Enchanted and Hot Fuzz) and I thought she was pretty funny.

The cops

Someone I didn’t think was funny, are the cops in the movie. They just weren’t doin it for me. In the movie it is a guy and a female assistant.

In the book the main cop is an Irish guy who was a former spy in the 40’s back when he was a kid. He was part of Hitler’s youth, but it was to get information which he would give to England. McDonald wrote a series of books dedicated to this cop, Flynn, this book being when he was very first introduced.

Andy and her stepmom

 In both, Andy dislikes her stepmom, Sylvia. Sylvia shows up to Boston to figure out what Fletch is doing there, thinking he knows where the paintings are. In both, even though her husband’s body hasn’t shown up, she is acting like he is dead. In both, Andy shows up as well to help Fletch get things sorted.

The reveal

The book and movie have basically the same turnout, but it happens differently.

In the book, we learn that Horan, who is the art dealer Fletch was communicating with about the stolen art, had stolen the art with the help of Andy. We also learn he is the one who killed the woman in the apartment, wanting to set up Fletch.

He is arrested, and then we see that Andy’s father is alive and he and Fletch set up the fake kidnapping so he could figure out what happened with his paintings. In the end, Fletch helps him get away with his paintings which Fletch managed to steal from Horan’s place.

In the movie, there is a moment when suddenly literally everyone shows up at the place Fletch is renting. Then Andy says she has to go and he follows her. She goes to meet Horan, and when Fletch is with them, Horan is going to kill them both but then one of the cops kills Horan instead. It is the same thing where Horan was the killer and the thief. Though in the movie I guess Andy wasn’t as related to the art thievery like she was in the book.

In the movie, the father shows up as well. In the book, by this point his wife and daughter had gone back to Italy, but in the movie, they are still in Boston and reunite with him. Here, the father gives Fletch the paintings which he then gives to different people and keeps one for himself.

Book vs movie

The movie is a fairly faithful adaptation. Sure, there are some changes here and there, but I thought it stayed close enough to the book. I was glad they had it in present day and didn’t have it take place in the 70’s or 80’s.

The movie was more entertaining than the book, which as I said, I found pretty dull. Again, I didn’t hate the book, just found it poorly written and pretty forgettable. The movie isn’t anything to write home about either, but I will say it wins when compares to the book!

If you are a fan of the Fletch books, I apologize if I came across harsh in review for it! But it just wasn’t my thing. Nonetheless, comment below if you want me to cover the first Fletch book and movie and I will!