Pokémon Detective Pikachu

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Pokémon Detective Pikachu Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Family-friendly mystery will be most fun for Pokémon fans.
  • PG
  • 2019
  • 104 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 53 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 50 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Intended to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Promotes teamwork, courage, friendship. Makes the case that you should follow your instincts, learn who to trust, and try to protect those you care about. Also reveals how even the seemingly inexperienced can make a difference.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Pikachu and Tim are both courageous; they work together as a team to help find the answers they're looking for, and they succeed.

Violence & Scariness

A powerful Pokémon destroys a lab, causes a fatal accident by making a car go off the side of a bridge. Pokémon fight with their powers in battle, causing property damage, injuries. A tense sequence shows two humans and their Pokémon trying to escape dangerous, terrain-shifting landscape. Pikachu is nearly killed. A Pokémon is taken hostage. A Pokémon wants to kill Pikachu and Tim, nearly succeeds. Pikachu makes a stalker joke about whether Tim is going to turn him "into a lampshade."

Sexy Stuff

Flirting between Tim and Lucy; he calls her "the woman he's very attracted to." Jokes about whether Tim knows how to speak to a woman. Pikachu jokes that he's never asked anyone to spend the night in his apartment, because he's "not that kind of Pokémon." When Pikachu sees a shirtless man, he jokes that all he can see is "tattoos and nipples."

Language

"Damn," "stupid," "get me the hell out of here," "good God." A character starts to say "s--t" but is cut off.

Consumerism

On camera, basically nothing, but entire movie could be perceived as advertisement for Pokémon: cards, games, app, shows, etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A couple of scenes take place in a bar/restaurant.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a mystery adventure set in a fictional city in which humans and Pokémon co-exist. Starring Ryan Reynolds as the voice of a Pikachu who can speak to only one human, Tim (Justice Smith), the story explores how the two team up to investigate the supposedly accidental death of Tim's detective father. There's definitely some violence: Pokémon battle both each other and humans, and there's destruction (including a fatal car crash) and injuries, but nothing gets bloody or graphic. Main characters are frequently in peril, but -- despite some close calls -- no one dies. Language is limited to "hell," "stupid," and "good God," and there's nothing more risque than flirting and a couple of double-meaning jokes (when Pikachu sees a shirtless man, he quips that all he can see is "tattoos and nipples"). The story promotes teamwork, courage, and friendship and shows how even the seemingly inexperienced can make a difference.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6-year-old Written byLiz N. May 12, 2019

not really a kids' movie

We just came back from seeing this with our 6 year old son. I had no expectations going in. For background, I am not very well-versed in Pokémon, other than kno... Continue reading
Parent of a 4 and 6-year-old Written byPunksNotDad May 13, 2019

Things left out of the official warnings and recommendations (that are worth mentioning, anyway)

I actually enjoyed the movie a lot more than anticipated. Here are just a few things parents might appreciate knowing about an otherwise very enjoyable and kid-... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byethan3175 June 24, 2019

Great if you know your Pokémon, otherwise mediocre

Ryan Reynolds portrayal of Pikachu was hilarious and heartwarming. It definitely carried the film. That being said this movie travels to the weirder side of Pok... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byOneboyreviewing May 29, 2019

Detective Pikachu will SHOCK you!

This movie was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!! Despite some pokemon such as lickitung being a bit uncanny, the animation is stunning! The pokemon blend so well around the... Continue reading

What's the story?

POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU starts with a powerful Pokémon setting fire to a lab and then causing a fatal car accident in Ryme City, a place where the creatures and humans live side by side without battles or trainers. In another city, 21-year-old Tim (Justice Smith) finds out that his estranged father, Harry, a renowned police detective, was killed in the accident, so he travels to Ryme City to collect his father's effects. While staying in his father's apartment, Tim discovers that his father's Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) partner -- previously believed dead -- is alive, but without any memories. Even more worrisome? Tim can understand when the Pikachu speaks, while everyone else still hears the typical (and adorable) "Pika Pika." The duo also discovers that a vial of gas found in Harry's place can temporarily turn Pokémon into unhinged rage monsters. Together with help from Lucy (Kathryn Newton), a budding reporter who wants to look into the poisonous gas and what happened the night of the accident, Tim and Pikachu track down Harry's sources around Ryme City, hoping to find answers, wherever they might lead.

Is it any good?

Reynolds' performance as the overly caffeinated Pikachu makes this family-friendly mystery fun for more than die-hard Pokémon fans, but it's best for those who've always wanted to catch 'em all. The "adorkable" Smith and Reynolds' hilariously sarcastic Pikachu have a charming, banter-filled chemistry. While the trailer gives away some of the funniest bits (like the scene in which the duo tries to interrogate Mr. Mime and Pikachu has no clue what he's saying), there's plenty for Pokémon lovers to enjoy, particularly moviegoers who know what the various Pokémons' powers are and can understand the subtext of Lucy's Psyduck needing to be kept calm -- or why the Mewtwo is such a legendary and powerful creature. There's even a laugh-out-loud moment when a character sings an angsty rendition of the Pokémon theme song.

While the movie has the most to offer those who are well-versed in the Pokémon universe, it's completely possible for those who don't know their Pikachu from their Pokédex to enjoy, too. There's something irresistibly trippy about seeing all of the computer-generated Pokémon interact with live-action humans, and also with one another. The underground battle featuring an overly dosed Charizard and an overly confident Pikachu is well done, while subsequent action sequences are even more perilous. Despite the number of life-or-death situations, younger viewers should take heart that their favorites will survive "arm in arm [to] win the fight" (in other words, this isn't Avengers: Endgame).

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the intended audience for Pokémon Detective Pikachu. Do you need to be familiar with the Pokémon universe to get the story? Which jokes and scenes are funniest for those who do know their Pokédex?

  • Were any parts of the movie frightening or violent? Why? How much violence or scary stuff can younger viewers handle?

  • How does Tim and Pikachu's partnership depict teamwork and courage? Why are those important character strengths?

  • Does the movie make you want to revisit Pokémon games or shows? Is the consumerism the same as with other movies based on established entertainment properties?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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