(This is a republished post. You can view the original posting HERE.)
Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie
is not only a mouth full of a title, but it is also the latest adventure for former Detective Adrian Monk (Tony Shaloub). In this made-for-TV-esk film by Peacock, Monk is pulled out of retirement due to the sudden death of his quasi step-daughter's fiance. Officially the death is ruled an accident, but Molly (Caitlin McGee), who is the long lost daughter of Trudy Monk (Melora Hardin) - Adrian's late wife - firmly believes it was murder. The band (so to speak) is (mostly) brought back together for what is being advertised as one last case.
It's been 14 years since the show that created these characters went off the air, so how does this new entry hold up? Well… It's… Fine.
Before I go any further, I feel it necessary to make it clear that I was (and still am) a massive fan of the show. And by massive fan, I can honestly say that Monk
is one of my all time favorites. I cannot explain exactly what it is about Monk
that makes it so special to me. All I can say is that I just love it with all of my heart; it's the TV equivalent of comfort food. I'm also somewhat cynical when it comes to all the lazy reboots and retreads coming out of Hollywood.
However, when I first heard that a Monk movie was being made, as cynical as I am about these types of things, I was actually somewhat excited, somewhat hopeful, while also being equally skeptical. My biggest fear would be that they would destroy the perfect ending that the show gave us all those years ago; an ending that I must confess is one of my favorite TV show endings, ranking up there with the likes of MASH
and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
. An ending that is unquestionably perfect.
Not only that, but the show itself had consistently clever writing. How they handled the various cases was always a treat to experience. Sometimes you knew exactly who the culprit was from the opening scene, and finding out HOW was the whole point. Other times the killer is the secret. But no matter what approach the writers took, more often than not, some big surprise was in store for the viewer.
Sufficiently to say, this movie had a high bar to clear from my perspective. Unfortunately, the best I can say is that they provided the bare minimum of what they needed to accomplish, in that it was a nice reunion with old friends and did not completely destroy the legacy of the show (and its ending). But was it engaging, thought provoking, meaningful, and/or fun? Not really.
The best I can say is that it WAS nice to see the characters that we got again; not all who should have returned did so. Tony Shaloub especially did a magnificent job slipping right back into character. Returning, we see: Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard), Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine), Randy Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford), and Dr. Neven Bell (Hector Elizondo), as well as appearances by Melora Hardin playing the late Trudy Monk.
As nice as it was to see these characters again, there are quite a few I wish had also returned, including Sharona and her son Benjy, Natalie's daughter Julie, and especially Harold Krenshaw. There was also room for other unexpected characters to make an appearance, but going into too much detail there could be a bit too far into spoiler territory; and honestly, I think there was a seriously missed opportunity in that regard.
Then again, the open door that could have led to that opportunity probably should have remained shut in the first place, so maybe that's a moot point to begin with?
Speaking of spoiler territory, I am going to go into a bit of that here, and I honestly think it's necessary; some side plots are potentially jarring, and out of tonal character for this franchise. But out of respect I will go ahead and wrap them in spoiler tags; I just seriously and strongly suggest you take the plunge. Worry not, however, I will not discuss the actual 'case' of the story (it's so weak I don't know that I care to discuss it anyway).
Throughout the movie there is an ongoing side plot where Adrian is preparing himself for taking his own life, only to be mostly stopped by a hallucination of Trudy. I honestly don't know what to say about this, other than it was (as I said) jarring and completely out of place for Monk. Also, the title of the movie states that this is his last case, which is a blatant lie; even if the implication was meant to be that the studio will not make another show/movie in the Monk franchise, you and I both know that that will only hold true until Peacock needs a new product and they decide to once again bring the character back for another go.
I know that it probably sounds like I hated this movie; I didn't. I didn't HATE it. I just didn't exactly enjoy it. If this was just another episode of the show, it would be - without a doubt - the weakest episode, and by a large margin.
Do I recommend it? Well, that depends. If you were a fan of the show, you probably should give it a try; you may like it more than I did. Just temper your expectations. If you weren't a fan of the show, this won't change your mind one ounce, so don't watch it. If you've never seen the show, for the love of all that is Holy, do not
start here. Go watch the show instead!
Thank you for reading my post! Please consider checking out my debut novel, The Scars of Gaia
, here on my website! The entire novel can be downloaded for free in multiple digital formats.