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Cute, absurd silliness abounds in ‘Detective Pikachu’

May 17, 2019

Successfully breaking the video game movie adaptation curse, “Pokemon Detective Pikachu” is a charming combination of cute, funny and clever. With an absolutely adorable title character and a sense of humor that appeals to both grown ups and kids, the seemingly absurd combination of mystery and Pokemon is done with confidence, never once doubting its ability to pull off both. Though it is not the ultimate Pokemon movie that it hopes to be, “Detective Pikachu” is nonetheless surprisingly sincere and an enjoyable watch, Pokemon fan or not.

An adaptation of the 2016 video game of the same name, “Detective Pikachu” tells the story of Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), a loner insurance agent who is determined to solve the mystery behind the death of his father, ace detective Harry Goodman. Exploring every corner of Ryme City, a city built upon the idea of having Pokemon and humans living together, in harmony, Tim joins forces with Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds), his father’s former Pokemon partner. Uniquely able to communicate with each other, the wise-cracking detective and determined son quickly discover that Harry was on the verge of uncovering something bigger than they could have imagined.

Without a doubt creative, what “Detective Pikachu” lacks in strong directing it makes up for in story. A stylish reference to not only the video game series but also the noir films of the mid-20th century, it places the classic detective tale within the Pokemon universe, creating a bizarrely wonderful final product with an incredibly fuzzy, huggable protagonist. Staying grounded in the relationship between Pikachu and Tim, the film sacrifices a more rounded plot in lieu of exploring how the two’s interactions as they learn about one another. However, that is not inherently bad: There is something incredibly satisfying in watching various Pokemon creatures do their thing across Ryme City, that alone being enough to sustain the film. While “Detective Pikachu” is not without flaws, it is nonetheless an enthralling, often funny, all-ages mystery.

Compared with most modern franchises, “Detective Pikachu” is noticeably more imaginative. Visually striking and fresh, its unique premise allows for it to be more than a nostalgia trip, expanding upon the Pokemon universe in a manner equally entertaining to those unfamiliar with the series. While there are no shocking twists, the simple whodunit mystery serves as a strength, allowing the audience to explore the characters’ vast, colorful universe. Embracing its inherent goofiness, “Pokemon Detective Pikachu” may not be the best kids movie of the year, but it is certainly one of the stronger ones.

Grade: B+

Rose Dunton, originally of Nampa, has been living in Pocatello for the past four years. Proficient in Japanese, she is an avid film buff.