A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Chevy Chase classic came out just one year after the PG-13 rating was instituted, so although it's rated PG, today it would probably merit a PG-13 for its language ("bitch," "s--t," and many words starting with "ass"), sexual innuendo, and mild violence. As an investigative reporter, Fletch is a "master of disguise" who impersonates various people to gain information. The situations he gets himself into are funny and, for the most part, harmless.
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What's the story?
In this classic 1980s crime caper, Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher (Chevy Chase), an investigative reporter who's a master of disguises, is getting nowhere on his latest assignment exposing a drug ring at a local L.A. beach. One day a rich businessman (Tim Matheson) offers Fletch a job: to kill him in one week so his wife can inherit his millions before an aggressive cancer takes his life. Smelling a new mystery to solve, he agrees to the contract killing but immediately starts digging into the man's life. Posing as a doctor, an airline mechanic, an insurance adjuster, and an old college chum -- to name just a few disguises -- Fletch manages to uncover enough secrets, solve the crime, and write a Pulitzer Prize-winning series.
Is it any good?
The real humor isn't the story, which is fairly predictable, but the brilliance with which Chase uses his character's self confidence to wheedle himself into any situation. When at a country club trying to get close to Alan's gorgeous but ignored wife (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson), he claims to be the guest of a cheapskate patron and promptly orders bottles of champagne, Beluga caviar, and filet mignon. The phrase: "Put it on the Underhills' bill" becomes one of the many running gags in the film. So simple, yet Chase's delivery makes it irresistibly quotable.
As any viewer familiar with suspense-filled comedies knows, Fletch not only gets his story but the girl, too. How he scores both is a series of memorable jokes in an otherwise formulaic comedy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether it's OK to lie and pretend you're someone else if you're an undercover reporter. Should Fletch have told Alan's wife about his plan earlier? Which disguise of Fletch's is the funniest? How does Chevy Chase's comedy stylings compare with Will Ferrell's? What are the signs that this is an '80s comedy and not one from this decade? Which comedians are enjoyed by the whole family? Why?
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