T h e N o
t R e a d y F o r C y b e r t i
m e W e b S i t e
Everybody's talking about it. Already
people are lined up around the block to see it. It's the most talked
about film since "Gone With the Citizen Kane." It's made
"60 Minutes," the cover of Time. It's on America's lips .
Oh, excuse me. This is the review for
"Fletch Lives." I lied.
Not unlike investigative reporter and
compulsive con artist I. M. Fletcher -- in other words, Chevy Chase.
Chase is back, assuming you knew he had gone. He's tanned, he's
healthy, he's coyly, infectiously misleading and insulting. He's
back -- wait, I said that -- and doing fine in Sequel Hills, Calif.
Sudden heir to a grand ole plantation house in New Orleans, he quits
his newspaper job, hightails it to Dixie and, naturally, swipes
sarcastically at everyone in his swath, including redneck bikers,
rape-hungry prison inmates, the Klan, Christian broadcasters and
live-in manservant Cleavon Little. If you appreciate his kind of
drop-dead deadpan, you'll enjoy the journey south.
Asked what he'll do with his new life
at Belle Isle, Chase answers, with mock-genteelity, "Oh I dunno,
raise some chitlens . . . They're mean little animals but their
coats are worth a fortune." But that idyllic life never quite
happens. His "mansion" is a wreck, someone's making him a
buyout offer he'd better not refuse, and a lot of people don't like
him, particularly born-again TV preacher Jimmy Lee Farnsworth (a
manically spirited R. Lee Ermey), who covets even more real estate
for his Bibleland theme park. Other new neighbors include Hal
Holbrook as a country lawyer with friendly advaaahs and Julianne
Phillips as a real estate agent.
As studio caper comedies go (which is
about as far as theme parks), "Fletch Lives" at least has
an acerbic, if nasty vitality, which is infinitely preferable to the
vacuous mush of "Twins," "Who's Harry Crumb?"
and "Police Academy VI." And only Chevy Chase, L.A.'s most
resourceful snob, can get away with it.
"Want to drive into Belle
Isle?" he asks the woman he just had an intimate evening with.
But she doesn't respond. He checks her pulse. She's dead.
"Guess not," he says, bummed. Also a master of disguises,
he joins a Klan rally claiming to be a distant California member,
wows a born-again TV audience as psychic faith healer Claude Henry
Smoot and convinces a Hell's Angels gang he's Ed Harley -- of
Harley-Davidson. He also insists, at one point, that he's
Whether the lines are funny,
tasteless or not-so-funny, Chase keeps popping 'em; whether the
scenes are from "48 HRS." or "Beverly Hills
Cop," screenwriter Leon Capetanos keeps photocopying them; and
director Michael Ritchie (who also directed "Fletch")
makes everything move along to a frenetic zydeco soundtrack. Sooner
or later, you'll find yourself laughing at something. Unless you're
Thanks to Rotten
Select from these thumbnail images for