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“Psych 2” brings the blue skies

ss_psych3
Courtesy of Peacock
3stars
Cast: James Roday Rodriguez, Dule Hill, Maggie Lawson, Timothy Omundson, Corbin Bernsen, Joel McHale, Kurt Fuller, Sarah Chalke, Richard Schiff
Director: Steve Franks
Release Date: July 15, 2020

“We’ve done this routine before. Do you not know the definition of insanity?”

So asks Gus (Dule Hill) toward the end of Peacock’s original movie “Psych 2: Lassie Come Home” – one of an endless litany of meta jokes reminding us that not much has changed in the “Psych” universe since the original 120-episode TV series went off the air in 2014.

Yes, Gus and his pal Shawn (James Roday Rodriguez) are still goofing their way through improbable mysteries, riffing on pop culture, making up embarrassing nicknames and generally refusing to grow up. If you’ve ever seen an episode of “Psych,” “Lassie Come Home” will feel all so familiar.

That was my primary beef with the first “Psych” movie, which aired on the USA network back in 2017. And the same applies to this film.

But in a world where everything is constantly changing, I found much more comfort in Shawn and Gus’ shenanigans this time around. This is USA’s “blue skies” programming model at its finest – slight, sunny and funny. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who needs a few more blue skies in my life right now.

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Courtesy of Peacock

The plot is rather inconsequential as it is simply a joke delivery system. But there is naturally a murder that needs to be solved- this time involving a tech billionaire- and a potentially haunted hospital.

Is this an Indian burial ground situation, Shawn wonders?

“Probably not. We’re built on top of an old Kmart.”

There are several funny running jokes- one involving coroner Woody (Kurt Fuller, a hoot) disguising himself as a Cuban doctor.

“Are you sure this is a good idea? You’re not an actor. You’re barely a coroner.”

It also turns out that the old Psych office has been turned into a pop-up cat café.

“I suddenly have the urge to give myself a tongue bath.”

There are comedic riffs on everything from “This is Us” to “The Force Awakens” to “The Princess Bride.” And if you’re struggling to think of why you recognize Roday Rodriguez or costars Richard Schiff and Sarah Chalke, don’t worry. They’ll make jokes about that too.

PSYCH2: Lassie Come Home - Season 2019
Courtesy of Peacock

My favorite pop culture riff may be when Sean makes an impromptu romantic dinner for his wife Jules (Maggie Lawson).

“Why did you choose the menu from ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving?’”

“It was all I could find at the gas station!”

Roday Rodriguez and Hill knock the jokes out of the park thanks to their years of well-honed chemistry and comic timing. But director, writer and original series creator Steve Franks spreads the love around to the costars and “guest stars” – funny folks like Chalke and Schiff and Joel McHale. Even the bit players have some winning lines.

Hey there, forgettable policeman, what’s your wife up to these days?

“Oh, she’s teaching yoga to horses now.”

There’s little substance in “Psych 2,” and the film’s more serious ruminations on fatherhood fall flat amidst the constant comedic antics. There’s little character development, no gravitas.

It would seem that Timothy Omundson (as the titular Carlton “Lassie” Lassiter) is given the spotlight, which is especially refreshing considering this is his first big role after suffering a stroke in 2017. But he’s given little to do, although he does manage to carry the film’s surprisingly emotional ending.

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Courtesy of Peacock

The production values never seem “cinematic” – the film looks and feels like an extended “Psych” episode. And if you’re not a fan of the show at this point, I doubt that “Lassie Come Home” (rated TV-PG) will convert you.

But fans of the series will chuckle and smile and maybe even laugh out loud once or twice.  “Lassie Come Home” has all the appeal of a high school reunion- catching up with old friends and sharing some in-jokes one more time.

It’s not a bad way to spend an hour-and-a-half, and if Roday Rodriguez, Hill and their army of crime-solving man-children are up for another one of these in another three years, odds are I’ll be right there with them. Bring on the blue skies.

About the author

Stephen Dow is an award-winning journalist with a passion for film – not just consuming it, but thoughtfully and actively engaging with it. He believes that these modern myths have a lot to tell us about our world and ourselves.  He can be reached at staticandscreen@gmail.com.

 

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