Movie review: ‘Pok–mon Detective Pikachu,’ family-friendly mystery will be most fun for Pok–mon fans

Parents need to know that "Pokemon Detective Pikachu" is a mystery adventure set in a fictional city in which humans and Pokemon co-exist. Starring Ryan Reynolds as the voice of a Pikachu who can speak to only one human, Tim (Justice Smith), the story explores how the two team up to investigate the supposedly accidental death of Tim's detective father. There's definitely some violence: Pokemon battle both each other and humans, and there's destruction (including a fatal car crash) and injuries, but nothing gets bloody or graphic. Main characters are frequently in peril, but – despite some close calls – no one dies. Language is limited to "hell," "stupid," and "good God," and there's nothing more risque than flirting and a couple of double-meaning jokes (when Pikachu sees a shirtless man, he quips that all he can see is "tattoos and nipples"). The story promotes teamwork, courage, and friendship and shows how even the seemingly inexperienced can make a difference.


"Pokemon Detective Pikachu" starts with a powerful Pokemon setting fire to a lab and causing a fatal car accident in Ryme City, a place where the creatures and humans live side by side without battles or trainers. In another city, 21-year-old Tim (Justice Smith) finds out that his estranged father, Harry, a renowned police detective, was killed in the accident, so he travels to Ryme City to collect his father's effects. While staying in his father's apartment, Tim discovers that his father's Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) partner – previously believed dead – is alive, but without any memories. Even more worrisome? Tim can understand when the Pikachu speaks, while everyone else still hears the typical (and adorable) "Pika Pika." The duo also discovers that a vial of gas found in Harry's place can temporarily turn Pokemon into unhinged rage monsters. Together with help from Lucy (Kathryn Newton), a budding reporter who wants to look into poisonous gas and what happened the night of the accident, Tim and Pikachu track down Harry's sources around Ryme City, hoping to find answers, wherever they might lead.


Reynolds' performance as the overly caffeinated Pikachu makes this family-friendly mystery fun for more than die-hard Pokemon fans, but it's best for those who've always wanted to catch 'em all. The "adorkable" Smith and Reynolds' hilariously sarcastic Pikachu have a charming, banter-filled chemistry. While the trailer gives away some of the funniest bits (like the scene in which the duo tries to interrogate Mr. Mime and Pikachu has no clue what he's saying), there's plenty for Pokemon lovers to enjoy, particularly moviegoers who know what the various Pokemons' powers are and can understand the subtext of Lucy's Psyduck needing to be kept calm – or why the Mew 2 is such a legendary and powerful creature. There's even a laugh-out-loud moment when a character sings an angsty rendition of the Pokemon theme song.

While the movie has the most to offer those who are well-versed in the Pokemon universe, it's completely possible for those who don't know their Pikachu from their Pokedex to enjoy, too. There's something irresistibly trippy about seeing all of the computer-generated Pokemon interact with live-action humans, and also with one another. The underground battle featuring an overly dosed Charizard and an overly confident Pikachu is well done, while subsequent action sequences are even more perilous. Despite the number of life-or-death situations, younger viewers should take heart that their favorites will survive "arm in arm (to) win the fight" (in other words, this isn't "Avengers: Endgame").


Recommended for ages 8 and older

Quality: 3 out of 5

Educational value: 0 out of 5

Positive messages: 4 out of 5

Positive role models: 3 out of 5

Violence and scariness: 3 out of 5

Sexy stuff: 2 out of 5

Language: 1 out of 5

Drinking, drugs, and smoking: 1 out of 5

Consumerism: 3 out of 5


In theaters: May 10, 2019

Director: Rob Letterman

Studio: Warner Bros.

Genre: Comedy

Run time: 104 minutes

MPAA rating: PG

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at