‘Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie’ Review: Tony Shalhoub’s Return Is Nostalgic
The Big Picture
- Tony Shalhoub’s return as Adrian Monk in Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie brings a nostalgic feel with the OG cast and their chemistry intact.
- The screenplay fails to match the tone of the original series, with a predictable and underwhelming investigation at the center of the story.
- The film focuses on Monk’s personal struggles, providing a sentimental resolution to his character’s story and leaving room for a potential future return.
After eight seasons of the hit series Monk, Tony Shalhoub revisits his beloved role once again in Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie. Although the actor slips into the eponymous character all too well, his anticipated return to investigating crimes feels bittersweet with the additional layer of goofiness in the film. Despite the overly comical approach, nostalgia is deployed effectively in this Peacock project as the chemistry-filled OG cast shares the screen once again (including Melora Hardin as Monk’s late wife Trudy) in a last attempt at fan service.
Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie
It follows Monk, a brilliant detective with obsessive-compulsive disorder. He returns to solve one last case involving his stepdaughter Molly, a journalist preparing for her wedding.
- Release Date
- December 8, 2023
- Randy Zisk
- Tony Shalhoub, Ted Levine, Traylor Howard, Melora Hardin
- Main Genre
- Andy Breckman
What Is ‘Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie’ About?
Adrian Monk has had an established career as a criminal consultant, solving over 140 cases while battling phobias that go from fear of heights to OCD. This film is set years after the character last set foot in a crime scene. When a publishing deal goes down the drain preventing Monk from paying for Molly’s (Caitlin McGee) upcoming wedding, the private detective feels worthless. As a new case emerges involving Molly’s fiancé, Monk gets a new opportunity to make things right with his late wife’s daughter and a chance at closure for his struggles.
Tony Shalhoub and the Cast Have Terrific Chemistry in ‘Mr. Monk’s Last Case’
The investigation at hand is only a pretext to get Monk back together with his former colleagues, which is the main reason why the film works. Having the protagonist alongside Natalie (Traylor Howard), Randy (Jason Gray-Stanford), and Leland (Ted Levine) is what allows for nostalgia to kick in and makes this project connect with the charm of the original series. After all, these people are the ones who believed in Monk’s potential from day one and helped him solve numerous cases before now. Although it has been 14 years since they last shared the screen, the chemistry between the cast is rock solid. This is shown in scenes where they joke about Monk carrying his own hand sanitizer dispenser or when they get frustrated at him for refusing to stand up with a shoe covered in dog poop.
Even though the cast helps to nurture the sense of nostalgia in the film, it doesn’t prevent the screenplay from failing to match the tone of the OG series. This is surprising given that writer/executive producer Andy Breckman was responsible for writing many episodes of the TV show. The reason why this follow-up project is less engaging than the original run is due to the investigation at the center of the story. The primary suspect here is Richard Eden (James Purefoy), a wealthy entrepreneur who is planning to be the first civilian to ever orbit the Earth. Molly’s fiancé interviews him a few days before the start of this investigation, already foreshadowing the character’s shadiness. Instead of presenting clues that could keep viewers off guard, the case is very linear with a few surprise elements here and there that are underwhelming. Although there is a plot twist at the end, it doesn’t feel that interesting compared to other cases Monk has solved in the series.
‘Mr. Monk’s Last Case’ Offers an Open-Ended Resolution to the Detective’s Story
The truth is that, although this is a murder mystery film, the most interesting aspect of Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie is its focus on its lead character’s open wounds. Yes, Monk finally had the chance to solve his late wife’s case in the show’s series finale, but as we see in this film, he is still unable to let her go. Instead of taking his medication properly, the protagonist prefers to see Trudy through occasional hallucinations rather than face life without her. Not only that, but he feels a sense of pressure to be there for Molly because she is his wife’s daughter (overlooking the fact that she was born from an affair). The struggles he faces overcoming Trudy’s death have been ever-present throughout the series, so it doesn’t seem off that this is such a central theme here. It allows for Monk’s trajectory to end on a high note, with him feeling peaceful for the first time in both his personal and professional lives. The film is also open-ended, making it possible for the character to resurface onscreen in the future if the cast and creators are on board.
Even with its conclusion, it is fair to say that Mr. Monk’s Last Case allows Tony Shalhoub the chance to remind fans about what made them fall for his iconic character in the first place. With his quirks and unique approach to solving crimes, the private detective still charms in this film even when the case at hand can be underwhelming. The return of other cast members ensures they still have the same connection and chemistry that they had when the series was on air. If it weren’t for Monk’s former colleagues, he wouldn’t have been able to close one more investigation. Although the case at the center of the film is often predictable, the focus on the criminal consultant’s struggles makes up for the stumbles. After all, it is clear that Monk still had to overcome his late wife’s death (especially given that he feels indebted to her through Molly) and recognize his own worth. It does the character justice by finally giving him the peace he deserves after all these years.
Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie is available to stream on Peacock in the U.S. starting December 8.
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