Over twenty years ago I took my little brother to the first Pokémon movie, Mewtwo Strikes Back. Back then Pokémon was a fad; it was going to be a flash in the pan and then kids would be on to the next thing. Of course that did not happen. Pikachu is one of the most recognizable cartoon mascots in the world and Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a blockbuster with a massive $150 Million budget hoping to gross over $450 Million worldwide. Even more surprising? It is a good movie.
Detective Pikachu is about Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) who has to visit Ryme city to deal with his father’s recent death. His father Harry, a detective, died in a car crash, but things get complicated when Tim happens across a Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) he can understand that tells him Harry is alive and that they need to solve the mystery of why Harry’s death was faked to save his life.
Detective Pikachu has kind of been billed as Deadpool for kids and that makes sense considering they share a lead in Ryan Reynolds. However, while the jokes do come fast and furious at times, I would say these are still two very different films. Deadpool does have its charms and a bigger heart than most people give it credit for; Detective Pikachu is more of a sweet kids movie. Pikachu and Tim are earnestly looking to build connections in their lives and this movie is about their relationship.
While the base movie fine, the real stars of Detective Pikachu are the fully realized Pokémon. They look great and they act exactly like you would expect them to. In fact, I wish the movie was more about them. I know this is a common complaint for these types of movies – more Transformers in the Transformers movies, more Smurfs in the Smurfs movies, but the Pokémon are so good that it is hard not to want more time with them.
The biggest flaw with Detective Pikachu is that the story is pretty generic, but it is saved by charismatic leads and cute little monsters. If you don’t like Pokémon this movie may not work as well for you, but if like me you have been around the franchise for over twenty years it is a fun experience. It also seems to work for younger children as well, my five year old loved it, so it looks like a winner for families. I am ready for more live action Pokémon movies!