Sure to be a hit with the pint-sized set and in states where recreational marijuana use is legal, Pokemon Detective Pikachu is Hollywood’s latest attempt to spin a cutesy kiddie craze into box-office gold. Narratively incoherent to the point of being almost avant-garde, the film goes down a lot better if you come to it with a finely nuanced understanding of the difference between a Jigglypuff and a Wigglytuff. But for everyone else, it will feel like being forced to watch a Saturday morning cartoon marathon while trapped inside a Japanese Pachinko machine.
Set in a Roger Rabbit-style universe where humans live side-by-side with Keane-eyed cuddleballs, Goosebumps’ director Rob Letterman’s pixy-stix noir stars Justice Smith (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) as an earnest teen loner named Tim who’s searching for his missing police detective father with the help of his dad’s yellow fuzzball partner, Pikachu. Tim’s special gift is that he’s the only non-Pokemon who can understand what comes out of the sarcastic little guy’s mouth.
As the wisecracking voice of Pikachu, Ryan Reynolds deserves some sort of special citation for doing the best he can without Deadpool’s f-bombs (or a decent script) to lean on. But the main problem is that the film’s gumball-mayhem plot is so frenetic that it’s impossible to determine if it makes a lick of sense. Maybe that was the point. C+