TOM GOODMAN is a young insurance salesman with no interest in a seemingly global obsession with Pokemon - the little creatures who co-inhabit the world with humans and most humans have a Pokemon familiar.
When Tom's father dies in a car accident, he meets his father's Pokemon, the titular Detective Pikachu. Pikachu explains to Tom that he suspects foul play in his fathers accident so they go on to investigate. Along the way they meet Lucy, a local news reporter investigating a spate of recent crimes involving Pokemon that are seemingly connected to Tom’s fathers death.
The biggest comparison with Pokemon Detective Pikachu is Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and unfortunately it does not come close to the quality of that 1988 film. Roger Rabbit was surprisingly punchy for a children's film and had a genuinely great story and villain. Here the plot is wafer thin and the villain, played by Bill Nighy, is just terrible.
Tom is played by Justice Smith and he is actually pretty good. Nighy is so hilariously uninterested it is almost admirable, you can almost see him reading his lines off camera from a prompter. He clearly has no idea what the words coming out of his mouth mean. Ryan Reynolds, who voices Pikachu, is doing a PG Deadpool. He is trying his best but is hampered by that rating. A few lines did draw a smile but aside from one scene where he sings the theme song from the Pokemon cartoon I do not think I laughed out loud once.
The film shifts from lazy to disappointing when it comes to its treatment of female characters. It seems ridiculous that a franchise like this, with a truly massive female fan base would have so little room for a female character. When its climax is approaching Lucy literally says "I’m going to wait in the car." What a waste.
I wanted to enjoy this. I was 11 when Pokemon burst onto the scene in 1997 and I played the games and watched the cartoon. The opening 20 minutes are full of promise, and for fans of the games very rewarding. It is a shame those behind the film could not even put an average enough story around the world they have built. Will that matter to a nine/10 year old about to start his/her summer holidays? Actually I think yes, the standard for children's movies today is sky high and this sticks out for all the wrong reasons.