TV Movie Review: Psych: The Movie

Psych returned last night like an old friend you haven’t seen since high school. It’s only been three years, but it’s felt like ages since Shawn Spencer and Burton Guster closed their doors on their psychic detective agency and moved to San Francisco. In Psych: The Movie, they’ve rebranded themselves as psychphranciso, all lower case, and modeled their shop on the movie Gremlins. But it’s still the same old shenanigans, catchphrases, pop culture references, and lightning fast dialogue that once made Psych so much fun to watch. Psych: The Movie is a pleasant, comforting return.

Shawn (James Roday, who also co-wrote the movie with series creator Steve Franks) is still searching for the engagement ring that was stolen while he was proposing to Juliet O’Hara (Maggie Lawson) at the very end of the series. Three years later, and the two still aren’t married, but it’s not a major issue. Shawn just really wants the ring back before they wed. Psych has only waded into melodramatic waters once, and that was when Juliet figured out Shawn’s been lying about being psychic for years. The missing ring could be seen as Shawn’s previous phobia of commitment, and Gus (Dulé Hill) seems to think so, but the show dodges that melodrama by not spending too much time on the issue. It’s obvious the two still love each other. Plus, this gives the audience the chance to see the wedding.

However, Psych is different this time around in terms of its format. As a two hour long movie, the case is a bit more complicated, and a bit more personal. It concerns Juliet, and the crimes she’s supposedly committed during the course of her police career. Admittedly, this is probably the weakest part of the movie. It’s never entirely clear what those crimes were. Juliet vaguely admits she’s cut some corners to get arrests. Ultimately, the truth is underwhelming, especially considering the lengths of illegality Shawn and Gus have gone to find the bad guy, as Shawn rightly points out. Zachary Levi tries on platinum blonde hair and a British accent as Billy, Juliet’s former informant who she eventually arrested. Billy wants revenge, but he’s only the face of what’s really going on.

Despite the weak premise, everyone is back in top-notch form. Shawn and Gus’ friendship is still the best part of the show. Gus is working at another pharmaceutical company in San Francisco, while taking psychphrancisco cases on the side. He’s still single at the start of the movie, but that seems to be mostly rectified by the end, excusing Selene’s (Jazmyn Simon) disregard for what happened to Pluto. Did you hear about that? Juliet seems to be flourishing as a detective, no longer a junior detective, with her partner Sam (Sam Huntington). She also has a pretty good relationship with Chief Vick’s daughter. Juliet’s best scene though is when she video calls her old partner Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) for some advice. Their partnership has been based on trust and friendship, and this small scene is a great reminder of that. It is Omundson’s only scene, as the actor suffered a stroke weeks before filming. Chief Karen Vick (Kirsten Nelson) has much more to do than in the show, as she takes to the field to help Shawn, Gus, and Juliet investigate who’s targeting Juliet. Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen) is the same as ever. Nothing’s much changed there.

Along with the regulars, Psych: The Movie brings back lovable one-time and recurring characters, without much care for justification, but it hardly matters. Nick Conforth (Ralph Macchio), Shawn and Gus’ one-time police academy instructor, shows up briefly with a tip about the case. Woody Strode (Kurt Fuller) has been demoted to assistant coroner after being fired from being the state coroner. Something involving a chili cheese dog, which is no surprise. Even Mary Lightly (Jimmi Simpson) makes an appearance, but that scene is too good to go into much detail here. You just have to watch. But the best guest appearance is Jon Cena, (except the one pineapple, in a great callback to Psych‘s pilot episode). Cena previously starred in an episode from season five as Juliet’s black ops brother. He shows up at the end, dragging Shawn and Gus into a show down with some unknown military presence. It ends there, but that’s okay, because Steve Franks supposedly has five more TV movies planned.

I’m completely down with more Psych. Psych: The Movie is great fun, but it’s a little weak in the details of some things, and I wouldn’t mind more time to flesh those details out more. Still, more Shawn and Gus exploits are always welcome. It’s obvious there are more stories to tell and more maturity to not resign to, and more “come on sons” and more “suck its” and more “I’ve heard it both ways.” Because even though it’s a different location, a different name (crappy marketing strategy though it may be), it’s still the same Psych.


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