Irwin Fletcher (Chevy Chase) is an investigative reporter posing as a beach bum to research an expose of drug dealing when he is invited to the mansion of Alan Stanwyk (Tim Matheson), an aviation executive who wants him to provide an unusual service in return for $50,000. Now you must understand that Fletch is no dummy and, since he himself is a chameleon-like character who can assume many phony identities, he knows something's fishy in Stanwyk's shady offer. Why would he want to pay Fletch to kill him?
This comedy, based on an award-winning novel by Gregory McDonald, is Chevy Chase's best work in years. He was funny in National Lampoon's Vacation as Mr. Norman Normal but here the character is a very hip, self-confident, quick thinking individualist who can handle any situation which comes his way. The part was made in heaven for this former "Saturday Night Live" superstar.
Looking into Stanwyk's background turns out to be quite an adventure. Fletch finds himself adopting different personas at a posh tennis club, a pig farm, and a legionnaire banquet. Along the way, he is mesmerized by the aviation executive's lovely wife (Dana Wheeler Nicholson), shown a few tricks by a nefarious police chief (Joe Don Baker), and harassed by his gung-ho newspaper editor (Richard Libertini). Director Michael Ritchie spices the proceedings with a good sense of pacing. Fletch is a snappy, inventive, and very funny movie.