Gregory McDonald's lightweight mystery novel about an undercover newspaper reporter cracking a police drug ring is transformed by screenwriter Andrew Bergman (Blazing Saddles, and writer/director of The Freshman and Honeymoon in Vegas) into a fairly sarcastic and occasionally very funny Chevy Chase vehicle. Enjoyment of the film pivots on whether you find Chase's flippant, smart-ass brand of verbal humour funny, or merely egocentric. Chase seems born to play I.M. "Fletch" Fletcher, a disillusioned investigative reporter whose cynicism and detached view on life mirrors the actor's understated approach to comedy. Fletcher offers Chase the opportunity to adopt numerous persona's, as his job requires numerous (bad) physical disguises, and much of film's humour centres on the ridiculous idea that any of these phoney accents or bad hairpieces could fool anyone. These not so clever disguises are put to use when Fletch becomes involved in the film's smart but continually self mocking two part mystery. As well as trying to gather drug smuggling evidence against the LAPD for a long overdue newspaper story, a rich and apparently terminally ill stranger also offers Fletch a large pay off to kill him. While the film does a fairly good job juggling both of these plots, not to mention tossing in a love interest as well, it's subservient, for better or worse, to Chase's memorable one liners and disguises.
Fletch is a reporter for a Los Angeles newspaper, but he acts more like a detective. When an obscure relative leaves him a Louisiana mansion in his will, Fletch is naturally curious. Arriving in Louisiana, events occur that make him suspect that all is not well, and there is more to the property than he has been led to believe.