Someone you know spends far too much time playing the adventure videogame “Detective Pikachu.” The enormously popular Nintendo game is a time waster of epic proportions, eating up minutes faster than old school Pac Man gobbling up Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. Now a live action movie, “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” starring Ryan Reynolds as the title character, a little yellow rodent-like creature with soulful eyes, vies for your time at the movies.
Set on the day-glo neon streets of Ryme City, “a celebration of the harmony between humans and Pokémon,” the movie begins with the disappearance of police detective Harry Goodman at the hands of a ruthless Pokémon.
Looking to get to the bottom of the case Harry’s insurance salesman son Tim (Justice Smith) joins with his dad’s Pokémon partner, the wise-cracking but amnesiac Detective Pikachu (Reynolds). The two have a connection that goes beyond words… sort of. Only Tim can understand what the little pocket monster is saying. “People try and talk to me all the time and all they can hear is ‘Pike, pika.’” They’re a natural fit. One can talk to humans, the other to Pokémon. “If you want to find your Pops we’re gonna need each other.” With the aid of investigative journalist Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) they uncover a criminal conspiracy that threatens Ryme City’s human/ Pokémon harmony.
The worldwide popularity of Pokémon pretty much guarantees an audience for “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” but it’s hard for me to imagine anyone who hasn’t spent hours whiling away the time with the game to enjoy this as much as already established fans. It is probably the cutest crime noir film ever made but it’s also a slog that should be a lot more fun. Not even Reynolds’s trademarked way with a one-liner can liven up this convoluted script.
“Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” feels like a retro kid’s flick. Echoes of “Gremlins,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and even “Howard the Duck” reverberate throughout, but with an emphasis on spectacle rather than charm and story.