As I mentioned in last week’s Friday Links, I watched Real Genius a week ago. Then, this past Sunday, I watched Fletch. As with Real Genius, it had been a long, long time since I had watched Fletch, a movie which has to be in my top five most-watched non-Christmas movies of all time list.[1]

So A), yes I’m on a bit of a classic 80s movie run. Sunday nights seem to be the most convenient to watch them right now, since the Royals generally play during the afternoon on Sundays. We’ll see if this holds once football starts. I have a couple titles in mind for my next viewing. B) I also read one of the Fletch Chronicles last month, which combined three of the original Fletch novels into a single volume.[2] More on that in my next reader’s notebook entry.

Anyway, I found my reactions to the two movies rather interesting. I loved every second of Real Genius, even the parts that did not age very well. Fletch, on the other hand, I had some issues with. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still terrifically funny and I could still quote about half of the movie or make subtle gestures as Chevy Chase made them on the screen. But there was something I couldn’t pinpoint as I watched that made it maybe 3% less enjoyable than Real Genius.[3]

After thinking about it, I think it was purely about Chevy. Back in 1985, and through the next decade or so when I watched Fletch religiously, Chevy was one of my comedy gods. Throw on Fletch, Caddyshack, Vacation, Spies Like Us, The Three Amigos, or an SNL compilation, and I’m going to love every second of Chevy. The problem is how we’ve learned over the years that Chevy is a monumental dick to most people he works with. So the whole time I was watching Fletch, I kept thinking about who he pissed off while filming it. Did Dana Wheeler-Nicholson and Geena Davis cringe each time they had to do a scene with him, knowing some sexist comment was coming? Did Tim Matheson[4] roll his eyes when Chevy talked down to him?

Maybe none of that happened, but still it was always in the back of my head.

Val Kilmer has a reputation as being a bit difficult as well. But I didn’t think of that while watching Real Genius. Perhaps because he was not yet a big star when that came out, or because it was more of an ensemble piece than a vehicle to showcase him.

I had another problem with the movie, too. The first time Fletch sleeps with Gail Stanwyck has always bugged me. So he just told her that her husband has asked Fletch to kill him, had used money she provided to finance a drug deal rather than buy the land she believed she was purchasing, and is married to someone else. And five seconds later they’re in bed together? Even by 1980s movies standards, that’s a stretch.

But, as I said, overall I still really enjoyed it. There are so many classic lines that have woven their way into our common, pop culture language. Potential off-screen issues aside, it was the peak of Chevy Chase’s big screen career. We’ll see how some of his other classic 80s movies hold up when I get to them.

  1. “I’ll take Unwieldy Pop Culture Category Names for $400, Alex.”  ↩
  2. Hell yes I’m counting them as three separate books in my 2015 reading list!  ↩
  3. Give or take.  ↩
  4. Funny how which movie you see of an actor’s first colors how you view them. I see Matheson and I always think of him as Alan Stanwyck first. I bet most people think of him as Otter from Animal House, though. And younger folks might think of him as John Hoynes from The West Wing.  ↩