Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie tv poster

Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie

Premieres December 8, 2023

Rated

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96 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , , ,

Adrian Monk (Tony Shaloub) returns to solving crime nearly fifteen years after the series ended in 2009. Peacock is hoping to recapture the quirky spark of the brilliant detective with a pathological phobia of everything in a new two-hour made-for-streaming movie, Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie (2023).

In a post-pandemic world, you would think everything is exactly how Adrian Monk would like it: everyone is washing their hands, using sanitizer, and masking up. However, the isolation and sudden shift in socialization have ground his ongoing recovery from his obsessive-compulsive disorder to a screeching halt, and his anxiety is as high as ever. As his stepdaughter, Molly (Caitlin McGee) prepares for her upcoming nuptials, he’s drawn out of retirement and into a world he’s even less prepared for. In town for the wedding are his former assistant, Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard), now a real estate agent in Atlanta, former San Francisco homicide lieutenant and now Chief of Police for Summit New Jersey, Randy Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford), and retired Captain Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine). Together they must investigate Rick Eden (James Purefoy), a Richard Branson/Jeff Bezos-type of billionaire intent of going into space, who may be behind a crime that strikes very close to Monk’s heart.

Despite the fact that everyone is fifteen years older, Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie feels very much like the episodes that aired weekly on the USA Network from 2002-2009. While reconnecting with old friends can often feel like time stood still and nothing has changed, I personally would have liked to see a little more growth among the characters. Natalie is successful, Randy somehow manages to keep his job as chief of police, and Monk’s therapist Dr Neven Bell (Hector Elizondo) has even written a bestseller that thinly anonymizes his patients, only nothing escapes Monk’s sharp eye.  While everyone has gone on to do wonderful things above and beyond their characters, they all fall into the same pattern of enabling and denial, which was funny fifteen years ago, but now seems a little stuck. Falling into old habits is natural, but this is a pathological lockstep. One of the more frustrating aspects of the movie was Stottelmeyer’s insistence that Monk was wrong about his assumptions, which after 125 episodes seems like deliberate pouty obstinance.

There are also darker aspects to Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie, on multiple fronts which I won’t go into detail with (well, I can’t), but they’re treated with less reverence than one would expect from such drastic life changes. The character attitudes are nearly flippant which I could almost understand as a mystery comedy-drama, but, well when you watch it, tell me if you’re not picking up on the same vibe.

Trudy (Melora Hardin) makes occasional appearances as both Monk’s late wife and the voice of his conscience, which she often did in the later seasons of Monk, but this time around, her ethereal calming quality is not only not as effective, but it edges into that depressive psychosis that wasn’t entertaining to watch.

Perhaps that’s the point, and I was looking too much into a comfortable reunion with old friends, only to see they’ve not only remained stagnant in basic personality but changed in gloomy ways I wasn’t prepared for. That would be a me problem, as overall, I enjoyed catching up with Monk and his team, and the final wrap-up felt like a neat bow on a present to the fans wrapped in recycled newspaper and paper bags.

Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie (2023) is rated TV-PG for mild swears, sudden stops from tall heights, unethical medical practices, suicidal ideations, and medication hoarding, and it’s currently streaming on Peacock.

The original series Monk (2002-2009) is also streaming on Peacock and you can revisit all 125 episodes over eight seasons.

Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

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