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Pokémon Detective Pikachu

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For a while, the first live-action Pokemon movie’s achievements are enough: first and foremost among them, Ryme City, a vibrant urban world in which Pokemon and people live cheek-by-jowl and it doesn’t seem unbearably weird or impossible. (Nor does it seem morally complicated, since the city’s residents have gotten past that whole “gotta catch ‘em all, store ‘em in a globular prison, and then make ‘em fight each other” mindset.) Second, a mystery that plays like a Young Person’s Introduction to the Great Private Eye Stories of Yesteryear. All the requisite elements, cleaned up just enough to make ‘em kid-friendly: your illegal drugs, your violent underworld, your feisty dame, your powerful interests, and your story of a tragic death that somehow doesn’t quite ring true. And speaking of cleaned-up: Ryan Reynolds manages to find Deadpool’s sweet inner child for his role as the amnesiac-but-still-wisecracking Detective Pikachu. So yes, there are virtues to set against the strange emotional flatness (there’s never a sense of danger, and there should be), the big mid-movie slowdown (shoulda trimmed it to 90 minutes, tops), and the wheels-off-the-bus final act with its loopy Big Reveals and goopy Big Emotions. Maybe kids will love it. But I’m guessing that once Reynolds’ adorable schtick wears thin, they’ll be waiting for it to end. (2019) — Matthew Lickona

Rated PG | 1 hour, 44 minutes
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