Pokémon Weekend.

It’s Detective Pikachu weekend! As the proud father of a five year old currently in love with all things Pokémon I had no choice but to see the new movie. What I didn’t expect is the cross promotion that would make this a weekend long event. Even more unexpected was how much fun the whole family had chasing these pocket monsters.

On early Saturday morning, a day when both my wife and I could have slept in, we instead drove a half hour to the nearest Target for their Detective Pikachu event. It was a little confusing, but that was kind of the point because a puzzle had to be solved.

We went to the electronics register where we were handed a paper with some clues. From those clues we had to find three Pokémon QR codes hidden throughout the store. Each code had to be scanned, which would unlock a digital sticker. Once all three stickers were unlocked we went back to the register to show our e-decals and were given an exclusive poster and card as reward.

By ‘hidden throughout the store’ I mean one was at that same register, one was on the back wall with the collectible cards, and one was in toys by the Pokémon figures. Usually this would lead to sales but there really isn’t that much Pokémon toys out right now. Tons of cards, but there’s only about six figures. My son has those already but in order to make the outing feel more special we felt compelled to buy him something Pokémon related. Thankfully the clothing cross over marketing was happening. It’s weird to see a five year old with a favorite baseball cap that he never wants to take off, but sell one that looks just like Ash from the Pokémon cartoons and suddenly I’m father of the ‘hat kid’.

My wife had to head to work so we did some research in the Pokémon app, had toys scattered everywhere, and when he fell asleep I thought that was it for this weekend.

Dawn broke on Mother’s Day and an idea was formed. A couple phone calls later and not only were we going to see the new movie but my son’s best friend who happens to be the child of one of my wife’s best friends joined us at the theater. We also play Pokémon GO with this family, so our history of catching them all goes back years.

Detective Pikachu is so much more fun than it has any right to be. When I was a kid dragging adults to the theater with me we saw terrible movies. The Smurfs and a magic flute is particularly brutal for adults. I can’t imagine either Care Bears movie is any good without a dose of nostalgia.

A new character who wants to avoid all that is Pokémon, Tim, is brought back to Ryme City due to the apparent death of his father – a detective in the city. Also looking into the death is his father’s partner Pokémon, a Pikachu. Through unknown reasons (although implied at the end) Tim is the only human who can understand what his Pokémon is saying. They reluctantly team up and the investigation takes the viewer into the wide world of all that is Pokémon.

First, it’s great for kids. Any kid that has some interest in Pokémon is going to lose their minds in the movie. Playing their version of Where’s Waldo, spotting any of the over 800 known Pokémon somewhere on screen. I heard every single name yelled out by kids in the theater, including my own.

Also, kids are far smarter than given credit. Every one of them understood this is a different Pikachu.  Not the one from the cartoon, don’t expect Ash or Team Rocket. This is a stand alone story. And they got it. These kids could teach adults a lesson so I’m no longer asked how Michael Keaton ties into Ben Affleck Batman.

As a 40 something, I was loving it. In this world Pokémon have existed throughout history and thus everything in the world is familiar yet slightly different to adapt for these creatures with sentience that live side by side with humanity. It’s one of the most fully realized alternate worlds ever put to film because it is the real world with one tiny yet massive change.

The movie hits all the usual beats. Love interest, betrayal, separation, but it does all of them well and enjoyably. Some subtle jokes for adults are mixed in much like any Pixar movie, but nothing that goes too far. Ryan Reynolds for all that some have said about him is less Deadpool and more Dad-pool. His performance is akin to me doing action figure voices at home. Silly, fun, leading the narrative when necessary, making sarcastic jokes – sometimes for an audience of one.

One of if not the main complaint online is the ending. Many reviewers thought it made no sense and was out of no where. Here’s a lesson I’ve learned through years of comparing my thoughts to other reviewers. They aren’t geeks. You reading this and me writing this, are. The movie reviewer for your local paper, TV, or where ever is in that position to watch the art house films and say cinéma with an accent. Very few if any want to see comic book spectacle on screen with wide eyes and a smile. Maybe it’s 30 years of love for these kind of stories, but not a moment in the movie felt forced. Every twist and turn was set up so an excited five year old full of Icee and Sour Patch Kids could follow along.

We’re already planning on buying the home video release the moment it comes out in hopes of deleted scenes and extra features showing more detail into this world. A sequel to any movie is always a possibility depending on box office, and if so we’ll take a 7 year old there.

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