Psych: The Movie; a fun throwback to a beloved show


Shabana Gupta, Staff Writer

Psych: The Movie became a wonderful mixture of laughter in dangerous situations, tension caused by love, and fantastically ridiculous commentary by the main character Shawn Spencer as he talks to criminals, family, and dreams of dead co-workers.

Psych is a beloved detective comedy-drama television series starring James Roday as a detective and fake psychic for the Santa Barbara Police Department. His character, Shawn Spencer, is a charismatic adult with eidetic memory and impressive observation skills that he passes off as psychic ability. Dulé Hill stars as Spencer’s intelligent best friend and investigative partner, Burton Guster.

In the pilot episode, Spencer was suspected of assisting in a robbery because he could tell the SBPD multiple details about the crime. Spencer found his information by watching the afternoon news and taking note of how people in the camera’s view reacted to questioning. He was questioned by Head Detective Carlton Lassiter, who was skeptical of his role in the crime and how Spencer knew information that the police missed. Under threat of jail, Spencer admitted to being a psychic and proved it by cold reading the people in the room.

Cold reading is a technique used by mentalists, scam artists, and fake psychics. It uses physical characteristics of a person, in addition to their body language and appearance. Most make probable guesses that could cause their target to react.

The series ended in 2014 after completing eight seasons with a total of 120 episodes. Since the ending of their show, the cult-like fandom, nicknamed the Psych-os, have been calling for a continuation of their beloved show.

Now, Psych: The Movie reunites the original main cast and was directed by the series creator, Steve Franks.

This movie felt more like an elongated episode than a full blown movie. It felt that the true purpose of this movie was to bring Spencer and his fiance, Juliet O’Hara, closer together during hard times. Spencer had been putting marriage off for three years after first asking at the end of the series (2014). Multiple scenes in the movie related directly to Spencer searching for his grandmother’s missing wedding ring. Spencer believed their marriage depended on having that ring since his parents had broken apart without it.

The first scene was setting up for later developments with the search, but in an odd way that was disconnected with other Psych opening scenes. Spencer was searching around a crime area for his ring while acting like Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean when he ran into the high-end fence, El Proveedor. After a short joke and reference to previous episodes by using Spencer’s half-a-beard which was first used in the episode Santabarbara Town, Spencer begins running from El Proveedor and his lackeys.

Spencer escapes to his partner Guster’s workplace, where we meet another throwback character from season eight’s “Remake a.k.a Cloudy… with a Chance of Improvement”. There are multiple other characters in the movie, going back to the first episode of Psych when Spencer cautioned a criminal about hiding evidence.

I absolutely love how many throwbacks have been scattered around the movie that truly appeals to the fandom. The only problem was that most of the jokes were directed at previous episodes and long-running jokes. Anyone who has not seen the series will be lost and only think Psych: The Movie is crack fiction.

This left me waiting for new, well thought out jokes that could be recognized by new viewers and give new material to longtime fans. There were good lines, like Guster’s introduction of himself and Spencer, “Hello, I’m Burton Guster and this is my friend, White Privilege.” This was a direct reference to Spencer giving different fake names to Guster whenever he introduced the other to new people. There was also a scene during the final battle where Spencer and Guster fought a ‘black gentleman ninja’ and decided to ‘do what they’re best at’. The two looked directly at the camera and then ran screaming as they have in nearly all episodes in the series. For new viewers, this could be seen as an interesting change of pace.

When it comes to the actual plot of this movie, the director went about developments in a truly Psych manner. Spencer noticed small clues that most people would have missed by analyzing the given information to removing the impossible or repetitive when they don’t matter. There was only one time where we actually see Spencer’s mind at work but he continued making observations that saved him and Guster from dangers, sacrificing Guster’s food in the process.

These shows of Spencer’s genius is part of what draws people to the fandom. Spencer’s intelligence and charisma is not followed with narcissism the way most people would react. Instead, he hides most findings for a big reveal to the police department or acts like he didn’t know in the first place. His crazy antics continue changing from case to case and keep fans interested.

Another throwback to the series was a returning villain, Allison Cowley, with a strong grudge against O’Hara, Spencer’s detective girlfriend. Multiple episodes scattered around the seasons focused on Cowley’s mentor and their obsession with Spencer and O’Hara. Cowley believes herself to be nearly identical to O’Hara, the only difference being with their morals.

The director managed to keep Cowley’s existence a secret from the audience, instead of using a separate character with a grudge to be the main focus throughout the majority of the movie. Following Billy (Zachary Levi) as the villain, Spencer and Guster were led around the outer city before reaching confrontation with Billy. Once introduced, Spencer likened his accent to that of Jemaine Clement rather than David Bowie, which Billy styled himself after.

Spencer and Guster are movie fanatics that are extremely proud of their abilities to remember movie lines and actors. In dangerous or awesome situations, the two often compare themselves to movie actors or reference obscure 80s movies to describe the situation.

In a way, this has been a repeated scene throughout the series. Multiple instances have shown Spencer facing extreme levels of danger — such as being held at gunpoint without any sort of backup in sight — and instead of calming down the situation by appealing to the criminal’s humanity he critiques their actions or appearance to point out any flaw in their plan.

The most amazing part of Spencer’s abilities is distracting the criminal from his original goal by insulting aspects of the situation that have nothing to do with the main goal. His is able to point out details to confuse the criminal. At the very beginning of the movie, Spencer is wearing a large fake beard over a small half-beard. In response, the fence who was chasing him said: “who wears a beard over a beard?” Spencer had enough time to start running while the fence was left bewildered.

I absolutely loved the movie and was satisfied with the ending, where the tradition of having at least one pineapple in every episode was continued — and the first pineapple joke repeated — before Spencer and Guster were left to escape from a hailstorm of bullets. The movie stayed true to its roots and deserves an 8.5/10.

Here’s some interesting information about the movie in addition to the TV show.

James Roday rewrote Psych: The Movie in approximately 48 hours after learning one of the main actors, Timothy Omundson who plays Carlton Lassiter, suffered a stroke mere weeks before the film started shooting. This led to the entire movie being filmed in San Francisco, and a larger focus on Kurt Fuller, who plays the coroner Woodrow (Woody) Strode. Omundson appeared shortly in the movie through a video call, clearly worse for wear in appearance and vocal expression. Omundson filmed his scene in Los Angeles within his own home.

In the final scene, Spencer is wearing a #TeamGrimmie t-shirt to honor singer and song writer Christina Grimmie, a loyal fan of the show who was murdered during an autograph signing in Orlando.

Guster’s love interest in the film is Dulé Hill’s real-life fiancé who he became engaged to on April 14, 2017.

Psych was the highest-rated scripted series on basic cable when it premiered in 2006 in all key demographics, with an average of 6.1 million total viewers. Psych won the Independent Investigations Group Annual Award for “Excellence in Entertainment” because they exposed superstition and promoted the need for science. It was nominated for its first Emmy Award in 2010 for “Outstanding Music Composition for a Series” and a second Emmy in 2012 in the category “Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media”. In 2012 and 2013 Psych was nominated for People’s Choice Award for “Best Cable TV Comedy” and in 2014 won the category.