What You Need To Know:
DETECTIVE PIKACHU is funny and exciting adventure. The special effects are first rate. Also, the plot has some surprising twists in the final reel that add to the entertainment. The most inspiring part of DETECTIVE PIKACHU is the father-son dynamic. Although Tim and his father are estranged from one another, there’s a happy resolution to that dynamic. DETECTIVE PIKACHU is mostly family friendly. However, the movie contains some magical creatures, a couple light innuendoes, intense action, and brief foul language that warrant caution for older and younger pre-teenagers.
POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU is a funny fantasy adventure with lots of action, set in the world of the Japanese “pocket monsters” craze, where a young man investigates the mysterious death of his estranged father, a police detective, with the help of his dad’s partner, a cuddly, talkative yellow Pokémon creature named Pikachu. DETECTIVE PIKACHU is mostly family friendly entertainment, with a strong father-son story that’s poignant, but there are some magical creatures, a couple light innuendoes, intense action, and brief foul language that warrant caution.
The movie opens with a large Pokémon creature called Mewtwo that escapes a mysterious lab in the countryside and, using its magical abilities, apparently flips over a car that’s speeding away from the lab. Cut to a young man, Tim Goodman, who learns that his father died in the car crash. Tim’s father, Harry, was a detective in Ryme City, a sanctuary designed by a rich billionaire named Howard Clifford where Pokémon creatures can live in harmony with humans, without any Pokémon battles. Pokémon creatures trained by humans fight each other using their magical powers. On a simple level, the Pokémon creatures are like modern Japanese versions of magical fairy tale creatures in Western folklore.
Tim travels to Ryme City to get his father’s personal effects. After Tim’s mother died when he was 11, Tim and his father became estranged, especially after Tim’s father took the detective job in Ryme City. Tim refused to visit his father, because he thought his dad cared more about his job than he did about Tim.
In his father’s apartment, Tim runs into Pikachu, a cuddly-looking yellow Pokémon creature who claims to have been his father’s partner on the police force. Unexpectedly, Tim discovers he can understand what Pikachu is saying in English. Except for Pokémon creatures with telepathy abilities, humans only hear the goofy animal sounds that come from a creature’s lips. Usually, Pikachu creatures can only be heard saying, “Pika! Pika!”
The little Pikachu tells Tim he thinks he was in the crash that supposedly killed Tim’s father, but he’s suffering from amnesia. Pikachu surmises, however, that, if he survived the crash, then it’s possible that Tim’s father also survived the crash somehow.
Tim and Pikachu team up together to investigate the car crash and, hopefully, cure Pikachu’s amnesia and find Tim’s father. Their investigation leads to a nefarious plot by someone in Howard Clifford’s company, the company that created Ryme City, to manipulate the DNA of powerful Pokémon creatures for an unknown purpose. Tim and Pikachu get help from a female TV news intern who wants to be a TV news reporter.
DETECTIVE PIKACHU is funny and has lots of exciting adventure. Most of the comedy comes from the dialogue coming out of the mouth of Pikachu, who’s voiced by Ryan Reynolds of the comical DEADPOOL superhero movies. Both Reynolds and Justice Smith, the young actor playing Tim, do a good job. The plot has some surprising twists in the final reel that add to the movie’s entertainment value. Also, the interaction between the Pokémon creatures and the live action human characters is pretty amazing and rather seamless. So, the special effects in DETECTIVE PIKACHU are top notch and sometimes even spectacular.
The most inspiring part of DETECTIVE PIKACHU is the father-son dynamic in the movie. Although Tim and his father are estranged from one another, there’s a happy resolution to that dynamic. Also, a few times during the movie, Pikachu and the father’s boss, played by Ken Watanabe, assure Tim that his father really loved him. Also, as the movie plays out, it’s clear that Tim loved his late mother and loves his grandmother, who took care of him after Tim’s mother died. Tim and Pikachu team up to stop an evil plot, so the movie also is about risking your life to fight evil and doing the right thing.
That said, DETECTIVE PIKACHU has some elements that warrant caution. For example, there’s lots of action with some intense jeopardy. Also, of course, the story is about the friendship human beings have with the magical creatures they call Pokémon. The creatures have magical powers such as electrical shocks, water attacks, explosions, shape-shifting, telepathy, healing abilities, etc. The good news, however, is that, for the most part, the Pokémon creatures are not as dark as the typical creatures, spirits, demons, and ghosts populating Japanese folklore, which has been influenced by Buddhism, animism, pagan superstition, and Taoism (some supernatural characters in Japanese folklore have some “good” traits and some are “trickster” characters who create comical chaos, just as Bugs Bunny did).
Finally, there’s some brief talk in DETECTIVE PIKACHU about the ability of some magical creatures to “evolve” into more powerful Pokémon. The movie’s villain is experimenting on Pokémon creatures to manipulate their DNA and their “evolution,” for his personal malevolent purposes. He’s also created a gas that makes the creatures go berserk. The movie also contains a few brief comical innuendoes and several relatively light obscenities and profanities.
Ultimately, DETECTIVE PIKACHU is very entertaining, but caution is advised for younger and older pre-teenagers.