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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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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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?
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?
- In theaters: May 10, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: August 6, 2019
- Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Suki Waterhouse
- Director: Rob Letterman
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
- Character strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: action/peril, some rude and suggestive humor, and thematic elements
- Last updated: November 20, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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