REVIEW: ‘Psych: The Movie’ an early Christmas treat for fans

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Never underestimate the power of fandom. The passion of “Firefly” fans played a large part in getting the movie “Serenity” made. Fandom fills the San Diego Comic-Con and hundreds of similar events with tens of thousands of attendees every year.

And now it’s got another favorite revived. Fans of the USA Network series “Psych” (known affectionately as “Psych-Os”) have been clamoring for more adventures with Shaun Spencer and Burton Guster ever since the show ceased production in 2014. And now, just in time for Christmas, “Psych: The Movie” reunites the cast for a feature-length adventure full of laughs.

“Psych: The Movie” picks up three years after the series left off, with Shaun (James Roday) setting up shop in San Francisco. Gus (Dule Hill) is still doing double-duty as a pharmaceuticals rep and part-time detective. They get pulled into a quagmire of intrigue when the Thin White Duke (Zachary Levi), a bad guy with gaudy bleach-blond hair, sets his sights on Jules (Maggie Lawson) after murdering her police partner. Shaun and Gus work to unravel the mystery with the help of a whole bunch of familiar faces.

If you’ve seen even one episode of “Psych,” you know exactly what to expect. Pop culture references. Slapsticky physical humor. Shaun and Gus bumbling their way through the case, annoying one another and everyone else they encounter along the way. The plot may be about solving crimes and stopping crooks, but what the movie, and the whole series, is about is how Shaun inconveniences everyone around him, yet they love him anyway.

Just like always, the heart of the movie is the interplay between Shaun and Gus. They argue in a way that only people who really love each other do. They have their own language, filled with catchphrases, riffs on pop culture and one-line zingers. Roday and Hill have taken these characters into their DNA at this point. Their performances fuse together to the point that one of these characters wouldn’t work without the other.

Lawson’s Jules gets a little extra dimension and complexity in this movie. And Lawson plays it beautifully, with regret an undercurrent flowing beneath her composed, tough surface. Corbin Bernsen shines as Shaun’s dad, as does Kurt Fuller as the returning character Woody Strode. And Kirsten Nelson is reliably solid as Chief Vick.

And then there’s Levi, one of those actors who’s a joy to watch in everything he shows up in. His Thin White Duke is an effete, Brit-accented blast. Watching him trade barbs with Shaun and Gus, you may find yourself wanting to see these three guys go on a road trip together.

The writing, courtesy of Roday and show creator/director Steve Franks, is sharp and funny. They don’t ruin the more dramatic or action-packed moments, but they also never lose sight of the fact that this show is, and always has been, about the laughs. They keep the tone light and the pace fast, making “Psych: The Movie” just fly by and leave you hoping for more.

There were a few issues. I wanted to see Shaun doing more detective work, but that takes a backseat to the movie’s Jules-centric plot. The visuals certainly haven’t been beefed up. “Psych: The Movie” feels like an episode of TV. I was hoping for a little more eye candy. And I wanted more Lassiter, whose role had to be reshaped after actor Timothy Osmundson suffered a stroke.

But those are little gripes that don’t derail “Psych:The Movie”. This flick does its job. It’s pure joy, start to finish. If you liked the series, this movie will leave you with a big smile on your face. Oh, and keep your eyes open for the pineapple.

You can stream “Psych: The Movie” on the USA Network website here. Enjoy!

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