A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You! is a 2017 Japanese animated film based on the Pokemon toy and media franchise. Expect some cartoon violence -- fiery explosions, some monster imagery. Younger viewers may be upset by scenes in which some Pokemon are neglected and left alone by their trainers because they didn't emerge victorious in battle; they have the distinctive large, tear-filled eyes that seem to be a hallmark of anime in general. Some positive messages on learning from mistakes, and being a good sport in both victory and defeat. Overall, while loosely based on the pilot episode of the Pokemon anime series, this twentieth Pokemon movie is best for fans of the franchise, as the complications of the plot and extraneous characters will confuse everyone else.
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What's the story?
In POKEMON THE MOVIE: I CHOOSE YOU!, Ash Ketchum oversleeps on the day he's to be assigned a Pokemon in Professor Oaks' lab. By the time he arrives, the only Starter left is Pikachu. While Pikachu is somewhat mischievous and rebellious, Ash is happy to take it on an adventure. Soon after leaving Pallet Town, the pair face off against Spearows, who Pikachu defeats. After the battle, a Ho-Oh flies above them and drops a mysterious Rainbow Wing. Continuing the adventure, Ash befriends the Trainers Verity and Sorrel, but run into trouble when they meet Cross, a Trainer who equates losing with weakness, and therefore has abandoned Charamander, a Pokemon left to fend for itself. Ash invites the Charamander to join their group, and as they try to defeat Cross and make him understand that his actions aren't the way of the Trainers, they must also worry about Team Rocket, a wicked trio who like stealing Pokemon, and find a way to figure out the meaning and significance of the Rainbow Wing.
Is it any good?
A common tendency in mediocre-at-best anime is to layer the story with as many plots and subplots as possible in the space of a feature-length film. Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You! is yet another example of this unfortunate tendency. What could be the simple story of the beginning bond between Ash and Pikachu turns into a chaotic snarl of extraneous characters, side stories, and something about a rainbow feather. By the third act, the story thread more or less unravels, but it shouldn't be a spoiler to reveal that the aforementioned rainbow feather turns gray when it's taken by those whose hearts aren't pure.
While somewhat of an origin story (based loosely on the pilot episode of the Pokemon anime series), Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You! is best for Pokemon fans or those who know enough about Pokemon to understand the battle scenes and already know and care enough about the characters to fully understand what's at stake. Otherwise, the needless and overwrought complexity to the story isn't really worth the trouble to try and grasp it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about movies inspired by games and toys. Why do you think cartoons are often based on games, toys, and other merchandise designed to appeal to kids?
What positive messages does this movie share about good sportsmanship and learning from mistakes?
Why do you think Pokemon is still so popular? What are some other examples of kids' movies and television shows that manage to remain popular for a long time?
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