There is a good case to be made for tuning into Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie on Peacock. For starters, it’s great, and thoroughly fun, in fact. Mr. Monk has certainly been missed in his time off-screen.
The 90-minute reboot film of the popular USA Network series Monk (2002-2009) finds Emmy-winner Tony Shalhoub returning as the titular germophobe and former homicide detective, who’s dragged into another crime-solving caper. Beyond the allure of Shalhoub, who can do no wrong in our book, the outing is a pure delight. In an era packed with countless revisits to previously established IPs in an attempt to generate a new or greater fan base, Mr. Monk’s Last Case hits its creative mark from beginning to end.
Created and written by Andy Breckman, the endeavor is great viewing for the entire family and anybody who loves crime-solving procedurals, and well, Tony Shalhoub or Adrian Monk. Executive produced by Breckman and Shalhoub, returning principal cast members include Traylor Howard (as Natalie), Ted Levine (as Stottlemeyer), Jason Gray-Stanford (as Randy), and the endearing Hector Elizondo (as Dr. Neven Bell). Tony Shalhoub and Andy Breckman broke down his caper in an exclusive MovieWeb interview. Take note of the highlights below and dive into the video.
The Difference in This Monk
Adrian Monk was already more than a bit obsessive about germs when we last saw him 14 years ago, so you can imagine what the pandemic did to the man. Tuning into Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie we soon learn that Monk has moved in with his stepdaughter Molly, played by newcomer Caitlin McGee — the great James Purefoy also plays one of the new characters here. Molly has become essential to Monk’s life post-pandemic. So much so, that the man promised to cull from his memoir advance to help Molly with her upcoming wedding.
Murder trumps all that, and so it goes — Monk is lured into another case. The murder will undoubtedly capture interest here, but viewers have already been surprised by other nuances. “A year or two before [the film], Andy pitched his idea for it,” Tony Shalhoub shared. “I was struck by how dark the premise was because we had never gone quite that dark before, even though Monk has always been troubled, depressed, and lonely for eight years. But this took it to another level. But, the way Andy pitched it, and how he kind of framed it, just sold me on it, invoking the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, which is a heartwarming, beloved holiday story about a man who is, you know, wanting to off himself.”
Talking to Andy Breckman, he realized that two dramatic and seemingly opposing themes can coexist. “It’s a Wonderful Life is…a work of art. So that was, that was kind of our premise.” To which Breckman offered, “My motto in life is, if Frank Capra can do it, Tony Shalhoub can do it.” That prompted Shalhoub to quip: “And Andy’s other motto is, ‘steal from the best.’”
Pitching the Concept to Tony Shalhoub – and His Wife
That initial pitch session has a more involved backstory, which informed the route this reboot film took. “You might be interested to know that when I pitched the story to Tony, it was over lunch, and Tony’s wife was there, and my wife was sitting there as well,” Breckman noted. “So, I was pitching not just to Tony, but to his wife and my wife. And that I will never do again. That’s a cardinal mistake. That’s a rookie mistake for a writer.”
Who had the biggest objection to the premise in the reboot? “I couldn’t get past my own wife,” Breckman laughed before adding he hopes audiences continue to embrace the film, even beyond the holiday season. “I was very concerned, and I really wanted Monk fans — diehard fans and Monkaholics — to be happy to revisit their old friend. I felt a great responsibility towards them when I was writing it.”
When asked about a potential future iteration of Monk and what he might love to see happen, Breckman was candid:
“A writer can’t turn that part of his brain off, and I have been thinking about where we might be able to go. I’m very excited, but I haven’t told anyone about it, and certainly not my wife, after that pitch experience. Whatever you do, don’t tell my wife. So, you know I do know where I’d like to take it. We’ll have to see how this all plays out. So far, people have been very enthusiastic and very positive. And I hope that door is open in the future.”
The Challenge of Revisiting Monk
Tony Shalhoub garnered three Emmy Awards for his work as Monk over the course of eight seasons. The show itself collected eight Emmys along the way. Keeping in mind the darker nuances that occupy this new script, Shalhoub further opened up about his experience returning to the iconic character.
“I guess the big challenge really was, ‘How do we reintroduce these characters and these relationships in a familiar and recognizable way, but make it different and interesting enough to justify doing this movie? How do we make it the same yet different? How do we make it true and honest, but heightened? And how do we take it to the next level?’ That was always the challenge. On an acting level, the idea was, yes, I have to go darker and commit to that and not be afraid of that, but also be willing to go really goofy and lighter on the comedic side and take those kinds of risks.”
He went on to note that if the writers took that risk, the actors had to do the same. There’s a wonderful twist at the end of the film, which, thus far, has generated attention. Overall, Mr. Monk’s Last Case is a worthy investment and thoroughly entertaining. As for what Shalhoub would love to see happen with his beloved Adrian Monk in a potential future endeavor, he added:
“I don’t know. The challenge with this character is that, as we find out at the end of this movie, he gets to a more hopeful spot. But we don’t want to get this character in too positive a mindset. You know, his strength is in his misery, his loneliness, his fear, and his depression. He can feel good, but not for too long.”
We’ll take it. Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie is streaming on Peacock. You can watch it through the link below: