I don’t know much of anything about Pokémon. It was slowly becoming a big thing when I was in my late teens and I remember kids coming into GameStop to buy all the cards from me. Personally, I was never into board games and thought card games were about as lame as gaming got. However, when they started to release the Game Boy games I thought I’d give it a try. It was a fun little role playing game for its time, but not particularly memorable. Yet, somehow this thing has endured for decades.
Now, I’ll be honest, I would never have even given this latest Pokemon picture a second thought if it wasn’t live action and didn’t have Ryan Reynolds voicing Pikachu, but that drew my attention. And that really is the biggest reason why this movie works. I’m sure that Pokemon fans will love all of the characters and getting to see them on the big screen, but that meant little to me. Sure, a few of them are super cute and have fun powers, but none of it struck me as exciting or wondrous. The thing that really works in this film is watching Ryan Reynolds voice the adorable Pikachu and his chemistry with Justice Smith.
If this was just some Pokémon story, then I likely would be writing a different review, but it’s not really. It’s actually an old fashion buddy cop movie and the twist is that one of the cops is a talking animal. The plot mechanics are a bit convoluted, but basically it’s about a boy trying to find his father and a talking Pikachu that’s trying to find his memory. Yeah, there’s other stuff, but that’s the gist of the whole thing and if you think of it that way then you won’t get too caught up in the minutia. Which doesn’t completely add up in the end.
Yet, the sum of the films overall parts work quite well. Mostly because of Ryan Reynolds and Justice Smith. I’ve never seen Justice Smith in anything before, but he’s got the stuff to be a decent leading man in the future. Ryan Reynolds on the other hand, has so much personality that he can carry two movies, and he makes it look easy. Throw a cute little Pikachu body on him, along with a decent sidekick, and you have a recipe for real fun.
So, while ‘Detective Pikachu’ is certainly far from a home run, it’s a good start. It has a lot of heart and handles the familiar buddy cop tropes with style. Mostly though, it’s a good excuse to let Ryan Reynolds have a lot of fun with Justice Smith. And while this may not be enough to recommend you spend a bunch of money at the theater, it is certainly enough to recommend that you see it at the dollar theater or at home.