I couldn’t watch Fletch recently without watching Fletch Lives. Straight up, the film’s not as good as the original. It starts off with some promise – even musical motifs recycled from the previous film give a real and welcome sense of continuity to proceedings – but really isn’t in the same league.
First up, the plot. The first film has the intriguing scenario of someone asking Fletch to kill him, and Fletch quickly investigating why the guy wants to be killed, uncovering even more than he bargained for. This film, meanwhile, has Fletch inheriting a house in Louisiana, followed by a murder, followed by as many southern cliches as you can fit into a film. Plantations, the Ku Klux Klan, a local megachurch with its own theme park called ‘Bibleland’, and characters who long for the South of years past.
While some of this material is very funny and largely stays on the right side of the tracks, ie: the Klan is lampooned mercilessly, and faith healers have the piss taken out of them, there are a few scenes in the film where I was thinking, gosh, you wouldn’t do that in a film today. This isn’t to suggest that Fletch Lives is a step away from being cancelled; I think it’s simply of its time. The crime is being dated. The themes it tackles would have felt slightly cliche at the time, and they haven’t aged well since.
All of which might suggest I’m saying this film is a no-go zone. Not at all. I think if you enjoyed the first Fletch film, you should definitely watch this one. There’s enough in there to keep your interest and give you a laugh from time to time. Just set your expectations that it’s not as good as the first film.