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4 Things Parents Should Know about Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

  • Michael Foust CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor
  • Updated May 10, 2019
4 Things Parents Should Know about <em>Pokémon: Detective Pikachu</em>

Tim is a young man who is grieving his father's death.

Well, sort of.

He hasn't seen his dad in years. Tim’s mom died long ago, forcing him to choose between a life with his grandmother or with his dad in the big city. Tim chose the former.

But now Tim is on a train, traveling to his dad's home, Ryme City, to claim his dad's possessions.

Ryme City is the only place in the world where humans and Pokémon – a cross between other-worldly animals and children's toys – peacefully coexist. Pokémon have unique powers. And in Ryme City, those powers are used for good. Every citizen owns a Pokémon. It's like a pet.

Tim's father had a Pokémon, too, named Pikachu.

Pikachu is yellow, small and furry. Pikachu also is opinionated, and he believes Tim's father did not die in the car crash that police say claimed his life.

But if Tim's father didn't die, then where is he? And why did someone try and kill him?

The movie Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (PG) opens this week, starring Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) as Pikachu and Justice Smith (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) as Tim.

Here are four things parents should know:

1. It Has a Family-Centric Plot

1. It Has a Family-Centric Plot

Look, Pokémon is not my thing. By the time it was invented in the 1990s, I was well out of college. But I watched Detective Pikachu with my 11-year-old son and found myself caught up in the plot. It has elements from the Gremlins – Pokémon can be cute as a koala or mean as an angry snake – mixed with a family-centric story. 

Tim has regrets of not knowing his father. He hears his dad’s former friends tell stories about him. He finds an unmailed birthday card with a sweet message from his father (“I can do better if you give me a chance.”). He wishes he could reverse time and make a different decision. 

He gets that second chance when he learns his father likely survived the car crash. Tim and Pikachu – with help from a budding young TV reporter named Lucy – set out on a quest to find him. 

No doubt, children will want to watch Detective Pikachu just to see Pokémon talk. But they’ll also learn about the importance of parents (specifically, fathers) and the necessity of love within families.

Photo courtesy: Warner Brothers

2. It’s Cute, but has Some Adult Content

2. It’s Cute, but has Some Adult Content

Watching Detective Pikachu is kind of like visiting a petting zoo. There are plenty of ah, it’s so cute! moments. 

But Pikachu has a sarcastic stream that curtails his cuteness. This leads to edgy humor. As he and Tim go home at night, he says: “I just invited someone to my apartment. I never do this. I’m not that type of Pokémon.” When Tim shows a lack of courage, Tim tells him to “grow some berries.” He makes a joke about his “jellies” and someone else’s nipples. Pikachu also curses several times: OMG (3), h-ll (2) and d--n (1). Tim says an unfinished “holy sh--.” Sadly, more and more children’s movies are including this type of content. 

The movie is rated PG, but so are other children’s films with content that is tamer, such as Despicable Me and Inside Out. This points to another problem: The ratings system in the U.S. There’s simply too much variance within the PG and PG-13 categories. Perhaps we should just let the British rate our films. They have five ratings (U for “suitable for all,” PG, 12, 15 and 18) instead of our four (G, PG, PG-13 and R). The British board rated Despicable Me and Inside Out “U” and Detective Pikachu PG. That’s far closer to reality. 

But I digress.

Photo courtesy: Warner Brothers

3. The Violence May Scare Some Children

3. The Violence May Scare Some Children

The movie’s evil genius has created a purple gas he wants all Pokémon to breathe. When this is done, the Pokémon grow wild, dangerous and even scary. The purple gas can also cause the soul of a human to enter into the Pokémon.

This plot angle leads to a few disturbing scenes that may scare sensitive children – not all that different from Gremlins (1984). Early in the movie, we see a group of cute Pokémon inhale the gas and turn violent. They then chase Tim through the dark. (He’s so scared that he loses his pants.) Ryme City holds a large parade in which hundreds of Pokémon inhale the gas, leading to mass chaos and angry creatures roaming the metropolis. The alien-like Mewtwo, supposedly an evil and super-powerful Pokémon, also may trouble kids. Tim thinks Mewtwo killed his father. The film also shows Pokémon inside a cage, battling one another in a UCF-type fight. One of these battles involves a dragon.

Photo courtesy: Warner Brothers

4. It’s Based on the Trading Card and Video Game

4. It’s Based on the Trading Card and Video Game

We can’t discuss Detective Pikachu without mentioning the controversy surrounding the video games and trading play cards, which are opposed by some Christian parents. My theater even handed out free Pokémon cards to every moviegoer. 

Critics argue the franchise’s products have elements of magic, Eastern mysticism and even the occult. 

The movie, though, is similar to a superhero film, with characters exhibiting other-worldly superpowers. They apparently were born with them. There is no occult.   

It’s sort of like a Marvel movie – with heroic stuffed animals and a wisecracking yellow furball. 

Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog,

Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Family-friendly rating:3.5 out of 5 stars.

Rated PG for action/peril, some rude and suggestive humor, and thematic elements.

Photo courtesy: Warner Brothers