Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is the story of Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), a young adult who receives news that his estranged father is presumed deceased. Tim thus travels to Ryme City, a blossoming metropolis where humans and Pokémon live in relative harmony, to get his dad’s affairs in order. However, upon arrival, Tim crosses paths with an amnesic Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) who firmly believes that Tim’s father is alive and that they must work together to solve the mystery of what happened. Oh, and Tim and Pikachu can understand each other’s language, which is highly odd and unusual.
What works in Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is the character design and fan service. While all of the Pokémon look fairly impressive rendered realistically, it is Pikachu that stands out. He is objectively adorable, and Reynolds does an incredible job bringing him to life by giving him surprising depth along with the humorous banter and delivery we’ve come to expect from the actor. Whenever Pikachu is on screen, a delightful time is had and for many, possibly worth the price of admission to see an iconic character portrayed so well.
If you love Pokémon in general, this is the movie for you. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is essentially a fun experiment in just diving into a franchise for fan enjoyment. There’s very little exposition or context—the movie simply hopes you accept its wild concept and then run with it. As such, people will likely squeal with glee at seeing their favorite characters running, swimming, and flying around as they interact both with humans and each other in fun, creative ways. It’s unclear exactly how many Pokémon make an appearance but there are tons, along with an assortment of homages to the IP scattered among the set dressing.
While Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is incredibly cute and just plain fun, don’t search too hard for a cohesive plot. The narrative arc reminds one of a creative child’s imaginary play—taking favorite characters, putting them into funny or interesting situations, then disjointedly stringing them together to make a “story.” Very little in this movie makes any sense whatsoever. Anyone who thinks too hard about the plot holes, inconsistencies, or conveniences—or know nothing about this universe—are likely to be frustrated, confused, or bored, but they might also be missing the point of this film. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is unapologetically made for fans of the series, young and old, and their family members.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is an enjoyable ride built for a very specific, but dedicated audience. The action and comedy propel the film forward at the sacrifice of logic, but the result will likely be smiles and laughter from fans.
Recommended if you enjoyed: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Goosebumps, Pokémon 2000