Detective Pikachu

Parental Guidance: Detective Pikachu

Pokemon and humans live together in harmony in this live-action whodunnit, in which a young man teams up with a wisecracking Pikachu to solve his father’s murder. It’s a family-friendly mystery with the added charm of imagining a world in which Pokemon are real, and sometimes solve crimes.

But should you take your kids to see it?

As parents and film fans, we want to share the best of the cinematic world with our kids. But when you haven’t seen a new movie yet, how do you know if you should take your kids? Obviously every kid is different, and they change with age; the same child who had to be escorted, weeping, out of Guardians of the Galaxy might completely fall in love with Deadpool two years later (true story). But it’s also true that movie marketing can be misleading – no-one wants to be that mom who had to leave Pan’s Labyrinth with an emotionally-scarred 10-year-old. With this ongoing feature, we’ll aim to offer some loose, spoiler-free, age-by-age guidelines as to what parents might expect from new features marketed to families, so you can make the best judgment call for your youngsters.

Full disclosure: our normally cool and aloof, yet nerdy 14-year-old so desperately wanted to see this movie, she agreed to accompany six 10-year-olds at a birthday party. In fact, the theatre we went to seemed to be two-thirds kids under 10. Let those facts be your barometer when deciding whether to see this movie.

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Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) seems content to live out a quiet, boring life in a small town, until he gets word that his estranged father, a big-city detective, has been killed. He travels to the city to wrap up his affairs, but soon gets embroiled in picking up the threads of the case his father was working. It seems someone has created a compound that makes normally docile Pokemon go wild with rage. But why?

He’s aided in — perhaps even persuaded into — his investigation by Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton), an intern at a media conglomerate who has aspirations of being a hotshot investigative reporter, and by the titular Pikachu in a deerstalker hat, voiced by Ryan Reynolds.

The 3D modelling of the various Pokemon is impressive, and almost makes up for the fact that the plot is kind of tired and predictable. What really elevates the movie is Ryan Reynolds’ voice work as Pikachu. There’s just enough of a Deadpool vibe to his offhand, deadpan asides to make even this cynical adult chuckle, despite the fact that the conceit of a hard-nosed detective in the body of a cuddly animal is a tale (tail?) as old as time. (Sorry, it was right there.)

So, should you take your kids to see it?

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Under 10s

The theatre showing we attended was dominated by 10-year-olds and younger. I’d say this is squarely in their demographic, whether they’re active Pokemon fans or players or just tangentially aware of the franchise. There are a few scary, suspenseful scenes, but nothing at all really frightening or nightmare inducing.

Tweens and Teens

If they’re Poke-fans, they’ll love it, even though the plot is kind of predictable and the Big! Twist! Ending! is pretty clearly telegraphed from the start.

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Adults

If you’ve seen the animated series or played any of the games, you might get a kick out of seeing Pokemon rendered in 3D IRL. Otherwise, it’s a pretty forgettable movie. Send the kids and park yourself in the theatre lobby with a good book.

Wee time: The run time is only 1:44, but if your little one really has to go, the heart-to-heart between Pikachu and Tim on the bench outside the police station is a missable few minutes.

Bottom line: Unless your kids are huge Poke-fans, skip it or wait until it’s available to stream.

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Jenny Bullough is a movie fan and mom based in Toronto. She has missed the middle 5 minutes of every kids’ movie because of her kid’s small bladder, and she let her kids watch Deadpool at an inappropriately young age and stands by her choices.≈

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