Detective Pikachu

I have never played Pokemon. I have never seen a Pokemon movie. I know a handful of the Pokemon only because they’ve permeated culture to the point that I picked up on who they were. Also, I’m not going to go to the trouble of putting the accent on the “e” in Pokemon. This is all stuff you need to know to fully understand my review. Let’s go!

I watched a YouTube video this week about a guy who went to watch Avengers: Endgame without having seen any of the previous MCU films. Understandably, he was quite confused, to the hilarious benefit of those of us watching the video. That’s how Detective Pikachu is for me. Though I was able to follow the plot, I have no idea why people were cheering and clapping at certain parts of the movie.

But — and this is important — they were cheering and clapping. A lot. People seemed to love this movie to death. And that says something, because I assume those people are actual Pokemon fans. And you know what, even if I didn’t cheer and clap, I still walked away having a pretty good time because of one man. The great and honorable Ryan Reynolds.

If you’ve ever seen Reynolds in an interview and thought “I could listen to that guy talk gibberish for two hours” then you’ll enjoy this movie, because if you aren’t a Pokemon fan, that’s exactly what you’re getting. He’s funny and charismatic, and brings a little animated Pikachu to life better than most of the other actors handle their real-life characters. (fun fact: before this movie, I didn’t realize Pikachu was a species and not a specific Pokemon)

The way that the Pokemon are brought to life is a visual feast, and the plot moves along briskly enough that you won’t get too hung up on the predictable story. There’s a bit of lazy storytelling that employs the equivalent of flashbacks, and despite being a “detective” movie, you don’t really get the clues you need to solve the mystery yourself. The movie tells you what it wants you to know when it wants you to know it, very clearly and plainly.

Mostly, I walked away enjoying the movie and perplexed at the world it depicts. I don’t see myself buying a copy of the latest Pokemon game anytime soon, but I appreciate a good fandom, even if I’m not a part of it. Based on the quality of the movie and the enthusiasm of the crowd, I think Detective Pikachu must be a home run.

Rating: 4 stars
Should you watch it? Definitely if you’re a Pokemon fan, probably not otherwise
Should you take your kids? Yes! It’s super kid friendly
What you should watch first: I don’t even know. Tons of games and cartoons I imagine. Don’t be like me and go in blind. At least read a wikipedia page or something. Cultural permeation is not enough.

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