Universal Home Video
Cast: Chevy Chase, Joe Don Baker, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Richard Libertini
Extras: Featurettes, Favorite Fletch Moments, BD Live
A little while ago, Universal Home Entertainment revisited the cult comedy "Fletch" on DVD and gave it the special edition treatment. Now, this "Jane Doe" edition is also available on Blu-Ray Disc, and there was no question in my mind that I had to check it out. After all, it is one of Chevy Chase's funniest movies.
Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher (Chevy Chase) is an investigative newspaper reporter who goes undercover in Santa Monica to uncover some drug dealings on the beach. Posing as a hobo his disguise is perfect – so perfect, in fact, that he is approached by a man who mistakes him for a real loser. The man turns out to be millionaire Alan Stanwyck (Tim Matheson) who wants to hire Fletch to kill him. Explaining the he's dying of cancer anyway the coup would serve to allow his wife to collect the insurance money and live a good life. Smelling something fishy in the offer, Fletch begins to snoop around a bit and discovers some interesting discrepancies between Stanwyck's version of the story and the real goings-on. Fletch is determined to find a front-page story in this and turns into a real bulldog.
One of the things that is most striking about "Fletch" is how well it lives up to expectations even after 20-some years. Where many comedies of the era fall apart and date themselves with their looks, references and characters, "Fletch" is virtually timeless. The story is so universal that it is as believable today as it was then and there's little in terms of gimmickry, pop-cultural references or such that would take away from the film. Only Harold Faltermeyer's syncopated synth score dates the movie somewhat, but by the same token, adds some freshness to the film because it is so unique compared to all of today's movie scores. Chevy Chase's characters are every bit as funny as they were then, making it hard to believe that the film is actually over 20 years old.
Universal Home Entertainment has created a beautiful 1080p high definition transfer for the film that is bringing out all the best features. Free of any blemishes or defects, the transfer faithfully restores the movie's original look without grain or color bleeding. In an instant you feel yourself transported to Southern California in this production and the transfer's solid contrasts and deep blacks with balanced highlights make sure it looks and feel authentic through and through. Skin tones are natural, giving the film its natural, realistic look. The level of detail in the transfer is good, although on occasion the print seems to be a little soft around the edges.
On the audio side, viewers are treated to a cool DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio track that is lively and bustling with action. This tracks sounds dynamic at all times and makes surprisingly good use of the surround channels. Of course, given the fact that "Fletch" is a comedy and not exactly an action film, surrounds are still comparably tame but the new remastering brings these subtle effect to life much clearer and distinguishable than ever before. Dialogue is well integrated and always understandable, and Harold Faltermeyer's score has benefited quite dramatically from the remastering as the expanded frequency response and re-equalization of the track gives the music noticeably added punch in the lower frequency range. Good stuff!
Like the Special Edition DVD, this Blu-Ray version is a little some in the extras department, replicating the same extras in standard definition.
Disappointingly, to say the least, there is no commentary track on the disc. While director Michael Ritchie may have passed away and may thus be unable to provide his thoughts on the film any longer, most of the other participants are not. Chevy Chase is entirely missing from all of the bonus materials, making the release feel a little like an egg without its yolk. This film in particular would lend itself to some sort of a trivia track because of the countless facets it touches upon with its characters, cast members and the story itself. Sadly none has been provided either. With that in mind, let's take a look at the extras that ARE there.
"Just Charge The Underhills" is an interesting featurette that offers a retrospective look at the making of the film. This featurette is a nice move away form the traditional EPK-style featurettes that have been part of releases for so many years now. Instead the DVD's producer and assistant producer have created a funny and entertaining odyssey-style featurette that shows them tracking down some of the actors and crew members and sitting them down to talk about the film. While it still contains the typical talking heads footage these interview segments are nicely interspersed with the search and research quest of the DVD creators. While the humor may not be exactly on a Chevy Chase level it is entertaining nonetheless, making it an enjoyable ride. Too bad, though that Chevy Chase himself is entirely absent from the bonus materials, and a quick few sound bites with Harold Faltermeyer who created the music for the film would have been a nice addition.
Also included is "From John Cocktoastin to Harry S. Truman: The Disguises," a featurette that takes a look at some of Chevy's disguises and how he brought them to life with minimal effort. Crew members talk about the genius of Chase as he would simply take a few fake teeth and create a character that was unique and filled with an individual personality.
"Favorite Fletch Moments" is, of course, a clip with some of the greatest moments form the film.
As a Blu-Ray exclusive you will find a BD Live feature on the disc that lets you connect to the Internet for more materials.
"Fletch" is a timeless comedy that has found a great new home on this Blu-Ray Disc. While it is a little weak on the chest in terms of extras, the wonderful transfer and the film itself simply make it a must-see.