You heard about Psych: The Movie? That’s not messed up. Jury’s still out on Pluto, though.
Three-and-a-half years after Psych’s original run came to its conclusion, the era of Peak TV has blessed us with a blue-skies reunion of Shawn, Gus, and the whole damn gang parading around San Francisco like they own the place. First, a requisite bit of housekeeping: Any fan of the series will be reasonably pleased with the movie. Shawn is still firing off pop-culture references at 100 miles per hour; Gus is still doing that signature thumb-to-nostril graze with beautiful efficiency; Chief Vick continues to be the HBIC who whips these pretty boys into shape like no other. But a somewhat gloomy cloud hung over the film’s production mere days before filming began, with Timothy Omundson — our dear Carlton Lassiter — suffering a stroke that required an emergency overhaul of the entire script. So while we’ll never quite know what the original Psych: The Movie had in store for us, I’m inclined to say that this movie is better than no movie at all. All right, on to the recapping!
Shawn — rockin’ a somewhat more Jim Morrison-ized version of his Soup Can Sam costume — is running from some baddies for stealing a bag full of their pricey jewelry. Shawn, of course, isn’t a thief. A pain in the ass, but not a jewel thief. So as much as I enjoyed seeing him running around San Fran’s dockside like a madman, the whole thing reeked of huh? The chase eventually leads to Gus’s pharmaceutical sales office, where he has, unsurprisingly, been working almost immediately since moving. (“I need security!”) Some things never change.
Also in the workforce, we’re introduced to Juliet’s new partner on the SFPD, and he’s one of the most affable portrayals of small-screen detectives I’ve encountered in recent memory. Naturally, that means he is almost certain to die. He does, at the hands of a bleach-blond “Billy” — or Thin White Duke, as he rebranded himself in this social-media age. He loves David Bowie a lot, if that wasn’t already obvious. Before we can learn more about this Bowian-tribute persona and his ragtag backing squad, though, we’re transported to Shawn’s newest psychic-detective HQ in Chinatown. It’s called “Psychphransico,” it’s real, and it’s spectacular. It’s also modeled after Gremlins.
At the hospital, it’s discovered that Juliet’s partner — whose status ultimately changes from coma to smothered-by-pillow, poor guy — had his dongle stolen by what I’ll now designate as the Thin White Crew as a whole. Shawn and Gus’s side investigation leads them to a shuttered mental hospital in the woods à la your nightmares, and they find that the dongle contains a document filled with sensitive and classified information about Juliet’s career at the SFPD. (“This manifesto essentially paints her as Harvey Keitel in Cop Land!”) Someone wants to hunt Juliet down, but why? Oh yeah, Shawn and Gus also take the Thin White Crew’s attack Rottweiler and name him Morrissey. This charming dog, amirite?
But enough of the case for now, which eventually leads to the motive of one of Juliet’s former police “snitches,” the Duke, getting his revenge. (In all honestly, Juliet doesn’t get a lot to chew on here. It’s a shame, and the extensive rewrites are probably to blame.) Gus manages to drag Shawn over to the planetarium for an evening of stargazing, and it’s at that moment when Gus meets the love of his life. (Fun fact: She’s played by Dulé Hill’s real-life fiancée, Jazmyn Simon.) That is, until they get into a passionate argument about the merits of a ninth planet — Pluto or die, baby! This is a hill Gus will die on! I only wish I could have a sexually charged fight with someone about Tom Petty’s career like this! She’s not convinced, the make-up making out is steamy, but Gus is just so derailed by her anti-Pluto stance that he has to storm off in a tizzy. “Are you crazy? That’s probably the best chance ever you’ll get to finding a wife!” Shawn helpfully reminds him. He’s probably not wrong.
It’s at this point, nearly halfway into the movie, when I realize I have yet to see more than four major Psych players onscreen. So you can imagine my delight when the gang heads into the morgue and discovers — who else? — a recently hired Woody working there, thanks to his downfall after a Dr. Spaceman-esque meteoric rise as head medical examiner for the state of California. Luckily for him, San Fran’s hiring committee didn’t seem too disturbed by his reason for termination — reopening a cadaver to retrieve a chili dog he accidentally left in the chest during an autopsy. Classic Woodster! Henry soon reappears as well, as a newfound hipster sexagenerian with a penchant for Jason Mraz ukulele melodies and weekly drum-circle meetings. Shawn is not kind. (“I told you to dress for dinner, not Adam Levine’s funeral.”) I’m personally digging the DILF look.
The happy tears soon turn to sad tears, though. We finally get our Lassiter moment, and boy is it a textbook definition of “poignant.” Juliet calls him for a video chat to get advice about reckoning with the fact she acted unethically in a handful of police investigations — hence the Thin White Crew hunting her down in retaliation — and, no disrespect to Psych’s other actors, but Omundson can do more in 45 seconds than the rest can probably do in 90 minutes. “Listen to me, I took an oath to put the lives of strangers before my own. Meanwhile, I have a daughter who says a little prayer every morning asking Jesus to please let her daddy make it home for dinner,” he said, as the skin below my atheist eyelids became noticeably wetter and saltier. “So yes, I believe in a code, but I also believe in doing whatever it takes to make sure bad people don’t hurt good people.” After a request for Jules to tell Shawn to “keep sucking it,” Lassy disappears into the technological abyss, and I rewatch this scene play out about ten more times for posterity. We really don’t deserve him.
Just like that, the hilarity goes right back into high gear thanks to Shawn’s surrealist dream about paling around with Mary Lightly — now a caddie-clad angel looking like a tasty snack — with an amuse-bouche and Gin Blossoms singing session. A note to the Psych team: Release all of the behind-the-scenes footage of this scene immediately. James Roday and Jimmi Simpson are adorable. I want to marry both of them. This temporarily made me forget about Westworld. Mary amusingly saying, “This isn’t for you, sir” is my new ringtone.
Back to the mystery. The Thin White Duke kidnaps Chief Vick’s daughter, and takes everyone to Alcatraz for what he believes what will be a Saw-esque evening of fun. But twist! He’s not the Big Bad at all, and gets shot dead in front of everyone! It’s actually Allison Cowley, who you’ll remember as Mr. Yin’s apprentice back in the fifth season. Ooooooh! Turns out this bitch is seeking some good ol’-fashioned revenge against “Little Ms. Can’t Be Wrong” Jules for getting her locked up for a decade, and is overly confident that she can definitely, 100 percent kill everyone this evening. Thing A happens, thing B happens, blah blah blah … obviously everyone survives and Allison and her cronies are arrested. And Chief Vick’s daughter handles that whole kidnapping thing like a pro.
Back on land, everything begins to fall nicely into place for an aww-worthy finale: Gus and his Pluto-hating boo seem to have a real future together. Shawn finally decides to marry Juliet after three years in limbo, which was partially due to the psychological aftermath of losing his grandmother’s wedding ring in the series finale. (The helpful criminal from the opening scene ends up finding the ring to thank Shawn for his helpful psychic abilities — which explains Shawn’s attempted jewelry theft. Also, Buzz McNab helped. Nice to see you again, Buzz! My man!) And since Psych’s creator already teased that he wants to do five more films, the cliff-hanger was interesting enough to pique my interest, although I was secretly hoping for a Pierre Despereaux return: Ewan, Juliet’s former black-ops brother, storms into the Psychphransico office to escape from the authorities.
Shawn, Gus, and Ewan on the run. What could possibly go wrong?
• “Don’t be the comma in Earth, Wind, and Fire.”
• “Don’t be the tender sweetness of a sea-sick crocodile.”
• “I’m Burton Guster, and this is my partner, White Privilege.”