I’m having trouble typing through tears of joy.
Shawn Spencer (James Roday) is a hyper-observant investigator who uses his skills to pretend to be a psychic detective along with his best friend Burton “Gus” Guster (Dulé Hill). The two worked in Santa Barbara, California, alongside the Santa Barbara Police Department under Chief Karen Vick (Kirsten Nelson). The two regularly pair with Det. Carlton “Lassie” Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Shawn’s now-wife Juliet “Jules” O’Hara (Maggie Lawson), and seek help from Shawn’s retired detective father Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen). It’s been 6 years since most of the cast moved to San Francisco when the show ended and Lassie has been the Chief of Police in Santa Barbara. Unfortunately, Lassie recently was shot and had a stroke during the operation to save his life, resulting in him being confined to a wheelchair with memory loss. It’s up to the Psych team to figure out who shot Lassie. Guests include Sarah Chalke as Lassie’s Nurse, Joel McHale as Lassie’s father, Richard Schiff as Lassie’s doctor, and Kurt Fuller, Jimmi Simpson, Sage Brocklebank, and Jazmyn Simon reprising their roles as Woody Strode, Mary Lightly, Buzz McNab, and Selene.
So, to truly appreciate this film, you not only need to have seen the show Psych, but also to know that Timothy Omundson had a major stroke in real life 3 years ago right before they filmed the first Psych movie. As a result, he was only in a small cameo via video in the film. His recovery has been hard, but honestly pretty inspiring. I don’t know the full extent of his mobility, particularly in his left arm, but I suppose it would have been necessary to address it somehow in the film. It surprised me, though, that this movie directly incorporated the stroke, albeit here from surgery, into Lassiter’s character. However, it worked amazingly. I’ve always loved Psych, so I admit that my opinion on this film might be a little biased, but having Lassie going through such a deeply personal journey enhanced almost everything about this film, even compared to the first movie.
The highlight of the show Psych, from the pilot on, was less the detective work of Shawn or the police, but more the interplay between Shawn and Gus. James Roday and Dulé Hill have such a wonderful natural chemistry that it makes almost any conversation between the two amusing. The friendship between Shawn and Gus is among the most believable on film, despite the fact that they are almost complete opposites in personality. This movie doesn’t mess with that formula, which is the right call, particularly since it’s been 3 years since we last saw them.
The main story is more compelling than usual, though, because it involves finding the person who hurt Lassie. Since the stakes seem higher, it has an added level of gravitas, even though the mystery is solved in the usual Psych style; which is to say a number of goofy scenes that slowly come together based around a number of coincidences and independent investigations somehow filling in the gaps. The film makes sure that the audience never forgets the center of the movie by having multiple scenes of Lassie questioning what his life means now that he might be physically and mentally reduced from what he was. Given that Omundson himself was likely dealing with those same thoughts, the performance is incredibly natural and powerful. I don’t want to spoil it, but the last scene with him in the film did legitimately reduce me to tears.
Overall, this was a solid movie if you’re a fan of the Psych franchise. The creators have said they want to make 5 films, and right now that almost seems like too few.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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