I’ve never been into Pokémon. For whatever reason, it just never interested me. I have a passing knowledge of some of the characters, but that’s the extent of what I know. But a live action, comedic version of this world with Pikachu voiced by Ryan Reynolds was extremely appealing to me. It provided the chance for a really fun and humorous movie. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu delivered that and then some.
One of my biggest worries going in to this movie was that I would not be able to understand a lot of what was going on, given my lack of a Pokémon background. But this movie set up an incredibly vast and rich world, while also keeping the story very simple for people like me to be able to understand. I’m sure there were tons of Easter eggs that I missed, but it didn’t take away from my viewing experience in the slightest. This is a coherent movie with a simple (albeit familiar) plot that knows what it wants to be.
And what it wants to be is a kid-friendly, Pokémon version of Deadpool. Pikachu, voiced by Ryan Reynolds himself, is a fun and quippy character who we can connect to simply based off cuteness. But the type of humor that Reynolds bring to this character will actually hold up better than Deadpool’s humor will. Pikachu makes innocent jokes that reference in-world scenarios, whereas Deadpool just makes pop culture references left and right. This is a big part of what really worked for me with Pikachu’s character.
What worked for me even more, though, was the way his humor actually informs his character development. Early on in the movie, Pikachu makes what seems like a throwaway joke (that I won’t mention for the sake of spoilers), but it comes back around later on for a big emotional punch. Amidst all of its CGI Pokémon action, it still is able to deliver this deep emotion, and I think it really, really works.
This is a movie that doesn’t set itself up for high expectations. Video game movies are notoriously bad, and properties with a niche audience do not always perform super well at the box office. But Pokemon: Detective Pikachu is better than it deserves to be. It’s fun, funny, beautiful to look at, and most importantly, brings a healthy amount of heart.