Where I Watched It: Paramount Plus with Showtime
English Audio Description Available?: No
Just to be clear, I realize that just yesterday I refused to review Weird, but those were different circumstances. Instead of writing another tirade about how I won’t review a film when someone refuses to add audio description, I’ll say up front that this lack of audio description presented a different problem we blind folk encounter.
What happens when you are about to watch a movie with other people, and the movie they want to watch doesn’t have audio description? That’s why I push for 100%, because it’s not just the right thing to do, it’s not just because preselecting a limited list of titles feels like censorship, but it also allows our sighted companions and friends the opportunity to have a shared experience without feeling like we are, for a lack of a better phrase, left in the dark without audio description. Some things are hard to watch, or harder to watch than others without audio description. Not that I’m giving shows a pass, but I’m guilty of giving in and trying to wade through some programming where I’m at about an 80%-90% ability of understanding what’s going on.
Then I ahve films like Crimes Of The Future, that rely so heavily on audio description, I reviewed them at an almost failing grade because I got about 10% of the film (if that). Confess Fletch is about in the middle. I got about half of it. It is a murder mystery, with John Hamm playing the literary character once played by Chevy Chase, this time trying to work two cases. he needs to find some stolen art, but he also needs to find out who killed this girl that he is being fingered as the prime suspect in her death.
Detective stories rely on clues that are often visual. Things that a person notices that help them lead to a conclusion, and in good films, they don’t blurt out every single thing they see. Adding to that, the thing Fletch is looking for here is art, a very visual medium. If he was trying to find a person or a dog, those things make noise. but I had no idea what the paintings looked like, and they could have been in a scene and i would have had no idea.
I wasn’t even sure how the girl died. There’s some talk from the assigned detectives, but a lack of description there wasn’t helpful. There was a shootout where I didn’t know who was involved, or shooting. Even the funnier elements were made less funny through the lack of description. There’s one scene where Hamm is talking to a potential killer or witness in her apartment, and you get the impression from his reactions that this place is likely a mess. She drops food on the floor, and then picks it up. Generally, not a clean person. But I don’t know for sure, because there was no audio description.
Paramount baffled everyone by dropping this into only a handful of theatres to fulfill a theatrical contractual obligation, where it got a mostly positive reception from audiences and critics. And then, instead of putting it on paramount Plus, where it might have had a shot at audio description, they put it on Showtime, where Paramount Plus hasn’t even bothered to bring over the existing audio description for Showtime original series yet. This film seems doomed to fail, like paramount is trying to actively kill the Fletch franchise.
But what I haven’t said yet, is that this film directed by Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland) was entertaining when I could figure out what wass going on. Jon hamm was a perfect casting choice here, and pairing him against his former Mad Men co-star John Slattery was a brilliant choice. i wish Paramount had more faith in this film, and I wish it had audio description.
This was a tough watch, and I have a hard time telling a blind audience to invest in this. I wish i could, but that’s what happens when companies treat us like we are on the fringe of society. you don’t want this movie to be for us, so I can’t recommend it. But I also can’t see myself tanking this grade like I did for Crimes Of The Future, because there were parts i enjoyed, and I found jon Hamm to be brilliant. Next time, make a sequel, treat it with love and respect, put audio description on it, and let us all enjoy jon Hamm as Fletch.
Final Grade: C+