‘Detective Pikachu’ is so pure, you’ll forget it’s Deadpool talking to you

Spread the love
23 Views

With the global Pokémon craze set off by Pokémon Go’s massive success, it’s easy to forget that this is a for-kids brand. But it is. And Detective Pikachu knows it.
That’s not meant to be a knock on the movie, though some might disagree. Having Ryan Reynolds there in the starring role, bringing his genetically snarky man-voice to lovable Pikachu, sets certain expectations in this post-Deadpool world.
But Detective Pikachu has a more wholesome and kid-friendly tale to tell. It’s the story of Tim Goodman — yes that’s the character’s name, and yes it’s delightfully on the nose. He’s a young man who’s a bit of a drifter. He used to be a Pokémon trainer, but he grew up and left that phase of his life behind.
When we meet Tim, his mother’s out of the picture and his father Harry is just a few steps shy of estranged. Or was. The story opens with Tim getting the news that his dad is dead. He was a detective in Ryme City, a metropolis-meets-social experiment in human/Pokémon equality, and he was working on a big case when he died under mysterious circumstances.
So Tim heads off to set Harry’s affairs in order, but his plans hit a snag when he runs into dear old dad’s former partner, a Sherlock hat-wearing Pikachu. Only this one is different from all the other Pokémon. For most people, Pokémon can only say their species name in a cutesy voice. But Tim hears perfect English, in Reynolds’ voice, coming from his dad’s Pikachu.
The two set off to solve the mystery that the senior Goodman had been chasing. Pikachu may be able to talk, but he doesn’t remember a moment of what happened — or really, anything else. An address inside his adorable little hat brought him to Detective Goodman’s office, but it’s clear that someone has wiped his memory.

Image: WARNER BROS. / LEGENDARY
It’s a breezy story, if a little light on the character development. Justice Smith’s Tim and his relationship with Pikachu is really the heart of everything. Smith himself doesn’t get a whole lot to work with, but in the small handful of scenes that aim for your feels it’s easy to remember why he was such an electric presence in Netflix’s criminally cancelled hip hop epic, The Get Down.
He gets plenty of help from Reynolds, of course. The snark levels may be toned down, but the Deadpool star makes no effort to disguise his voice or his natural predilection for sardonic humor. Detective Pikachu sands down his edge, but Reynolds — and really, Pikachu — steal the show. He’s a delight.
The back-and-forth patter between the two stars also makes this a more approachable movie. For Pokémon fans, Detective Pikachu is a visual feast. Especially after we get to Ryme City. Every frame is wall-to-wall Pokémon — and with more than 800 to choose from, that means there’s plenty of variety.
It’s a breezy story, if a little light on the character development.
The script also does a good job of helping neophytes keep up. Even if you can’t tell a Mewtwo from a Charizard, individual scenes do the work of explaining the lore points you need to know. And with the exception of one (admittedly well-timed) exposition dump that occurs late in the movie, those explanations weave elegantly into the dialogue.
Between the central Tim/Pikachu dynamic, the world-building, and the lore onboarding, Detective Pikachu is a lot — and that comes at some cost. The cast assembled around Smith and Reynolds is barely there. 
Kathryn Newton is the strongest of the bunch. She’s Lucy Stevens, a cub reporter who was chasing a story around the movie’s central mystery when the senior Goodman died. Lucy eventually connects with Tim, and her Psyduck partner’s back-and-forth with Pikachu deliver some of the strongest laugh-out-loud moments.
But Lucy herself is fairly one-note: She’s a nervous, inexperienced intern who, over the course of the story, finds her courage and her voice. It’s not the most original or surprising arc — the same could be said for all of Detective Pikachu’s twists, really — but she’s a likable character and Newton develops a fun chemistry with Smith.

Image: Warner Bros / LegendaryThe rest of the cast — which includes Bill Nighy as Howard Clifford, Ryme City’s primary benefactor and chief architect; Chris Geere as Clifford’s son Roger, and the head of the CNN-style news shop Lucy works for; and Ken Watanabe as a police lieutenant and an old friend of Harry’s — is largely wasted. They’re all talented performers, but their roles are so limited and one-note that it’s hard to see them as much more than set dressing.
The trailers did a great job of selling Detective Pikachu as a movie for all audiences, whether or not you love Pokémon. But really, this is one for fans and parents of fans. It’s a kid’s movie through and through, designed to make you feel good and offend no one.
That may be a little disappointing to those who were hoping for something edgier, but that’s fine. The wholesome vibes in Detective Pikachu are contagious. Reynolds checks Deadpool at the door, but his and Smith’s journey together is so endearing and honest about itself, you can’t help but smile along.

Read More

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •