Based on the game of the same name, Detective Pikachu actually feels more the product of the Pokémon GO phenomenon with its mass-appeal stylings. The noir vibe helps; a lighter, less memorable Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, it packs in jokes for the adult audience. That the gangster movie on the TV is Home Alone’s Angels With Filthy Souls and the doe-eyed bar crooner is a Jigglypuff keeps the tone perfectly tongue-in-cheek.
Ryan Reynolds pitches his Pikachu exactly right; it’s not Deadpool Junior but something altogether warmer and more affectionate. By the end there’s no merch he couldn’t sell. His wisecracking riffs sit in unfortunate contrast to the exposition-heavy script, but his relationship with Justice Smith’s Tim builds slowly and sweetly. If Smith is a little flat, it’s easy to ignore in the midst of the pacy action. And Kathryn Newton’s wannabe hack with a heart is no young Katharine Hepburn (or even Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hudsucker Proxy), but then again it’s hard not to be upstaged by a neurotic Psyduck.
Lovingly shot on 35mm for authenticity, some human-to-Pokémon interactions still feel a little off, with the odd wonky eyeline. Mercifully however, despite social media fears, the creatures themselves are beautiful and believable. And Ryme City’s London streets, New York traffic and Tokyo skyline are elegantly blended to give a real sense of place, with a palette that packs a pleasing neon punch.
The film takes every opportunity to engage barely battle-literate parents who never caught ‘em all as kids but sling the odd Pokéball at weekends. Is it a new childhood classic? No, but it’s a fun romp that’s sure to be well received.
CAST: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Bill Nighy
DIRECTOR: Rob Letterman
WRITERS: Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Rob Letterman, Derek Connolly
SYNOPSIS: Ex-Pokémon trainer Tim Goodman reluctantly partners with a Pikachu only he can understand to investigate his detective father’s car crash – only to find there might be an even bigger mystery to unravel.