11. A children’s film: Detective Pikachu (2019)
List Progress: 6/12
I grew up on Pokemon.
While I was never a big fan of the Pokemon games, I was obsessed with the anime, I played a million pretend games with my friend in elementary school where she was a Pikachu and I was a Vulpix, and I saw Pokemon: The First Movie in theaters. (My dad reminisces about sitting outside in the hallway with a dozen other parents.) If Detective Pikachu has a secondary non-child intended audience, it is me and people like me. In some ways, this film is pure nostalgia bait, which can often lead to shallow products that are just collections of iconic images to make the fans squee.
But I am happy to say that Detective Pikachu put in the effort to be more than that. It is a children’s film, and it is nostalgia bait, but it is also just a well-constructed, fun movie. And my god is it ever cute.
An adaptation of the 2016 video game, which was itself a spin-off from the incredibly popular Pokemon franchise, Detective Pikachu tells the story of Tim Goodman, a young man dragged into the disappearance of his detective father. Tim is joined by a Pikachu that he can magically understand and the two of them set off to solve the case of Tim’s father’s disappearance and unravel a conspiracy in Ryme City, where humans and Pokemon purportedly live together in harmony. The movie quickly summarised how Pokemon training and battling usually works in this world, but that we are in a different setting with different rules, which goes a long way to putting fans and non-fans in the same starting position.
The biggest surprise for me was that the human characters in this film were…actual characters. Humans acting alongside marketed CGI creatures are rarely given full lives and arcs of their own, but I really did come to care for Tim and appreciate his relationship with Pikachu and the others around him. This is a buddy cop story that actually sells the two becoming friends and partners. The narrative is well-paced, holds some real surprises, and plays out in quite a satisfying way. And having a Pikachu singing the original theme song while crying is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen.
Detective Pikachu is not an astounding or mind-blowing movie, but I didn’t want it to be. It is warm, fun, and tells a great story in an imaginative world, which is everything I wanted out of it. I hope that the children in the audience enjoyed it as much as I did, because it did truly feel like it was for all of us.
Would I Recommend It: Pika pika!