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The ‘Detective Pikachu’ Exit Survey

Talking Pokémon via ‘Deadpool,’ an evil plan involving soul-melding, and which character deserve a spinoff next

Warner Bros./Ringer illustration

Join us in Ryme City, where the pets are cute and where one media baron wishes to live forever by melding his soul with a genetically modified super-species. Ya know, just classic kids’ movie stuff. After months of asking, “Why is he wearing that hat?” Detective Pikachu hit theaters on Friday. A few brave souls on the Ringer staff ventured to see it; their thoughts are below.

1. What is your tweet-length review of Detective Pikachu?

Alison Herman: I now know what it’s like to be the target of a military-grade nostalgia offensive. I’m not mad about it!

Mose Bergmann: Absent fathers, gotta catch ’em all!

Micah Peters: I think I could’ve watched a feature-length movie just about humans and Pokémon navigating the world together, without the revenge-rebirth-doomsday plot. What if it was just a rom-com set in Ryme City? What then?

Andrew Gruttadaro: Suddenly Bill Nighy becomes a guy who wants to [checks notes] eliminate the human population by putting their souls into Pokémon? I liked the part where people were just friends with Pokémon more.

Stephanie Snowden:

Miles Surrey: Detective Pikachu: He cracked the case and filled my cold, unfeeling soul with the warmth of a thousand volts of electricity.

2. What was the best moment of the movie?

Gruttadaro: After Psyduck’s freakout, he just takes a nap. Very relatable.

Bergmann: I thought we had seen the peak of scary shape-shifters in Terminator 2 with Robert Patrick’s iconic T-1000. Little did I know he would be one-upped by a [checks notes] Ditto?

Snowden: I really enjoyed the troop of Bulbasaurs taking Tim deeper into the forest to heal Pikachu. It was beautiful, and resulted in a nice twist.

Peters: I’m going with the Ditto deep fake—seeing Jimmy Shive-Overly remove his big hater-blocker aviators to reveal creepy, tiny, beady black eyes worked a treat as a jump scare.

Herman: When Tim, confronted with what is essentially a giant goldfish mid-battle, says what anyone who has ever interacted with a Pokémon property of any kind is thinking: “Magikarp is the worst!”

Surrey: When the upstart CNM blogger, played by Kathryn Newton, lamented all the Pokémon listicles she’s had to write. We need more of these realistic on-screen portrayals of bloggers, the real backbone of America!

3. What was your least favorite part of the film?

Peters: Seriously, justice for Ken Watanabe, who was given literally nothing to do other than order Detective Goodman’s affairs and offer Tim some free counseling. Imagine having Saito and all you let him do is scratch his Snubbull behind the ears and look concerned.

Snowden: In the first 10 minutes, there is a very questionable scene when Tim gets a bunch of missed calls about his father’s death that had me REALLY worried about Justice Smith’s acting.

Herman: Pokémon is, at the end of the day, a fantasy, and the world-building aspects of this one were shockingly weak. How, exactly, does the “partnership” between human and Pokémon in Ryme City differ from their relationship in the world at large, battles aside? Are human-Pokémon pairings supposed to be like daemons in His Dark Materials, reflecting the human’s personality? If Pokémon are capable of being fully autonomous citizens of Ryme City, does that mean they’re effectively enslaved everywhere else? I left Detective Pikachu wondering whether a beloved touchstone of my childhood was in fact a nightmarish dystopia. Solid food for thought, but I’m not sure it was the intended effect!

Surrey: The swift and emotionally debilitating realization that I can never have my own Pokémon companion. They make these guys so darn cute. Also, the cameo from Diplo, who serves no function in society outside of livestreaming Sophie Turner’s Vegas wedding.

Gruttadaro: The end of this thing goes really off the rails, up to and including the reveal that Tim’s dad is actually Ryan Reynolds.

Bergmann: Dadtective Reynolds is a severe downgrade from his cuddly counterpart, and saving his appearance for the big payoff at the end of the story was an unnecessary twist.

4. Finish the sentence: “Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu was …”

Bergmann: … PG-Deadpool. Your mileage may vary.

Snowden: … a freaking delight.

Peters: … fine! Maybe even great! I still would’ve liked to have seen him poking more fun at the video game adaptation genre, although I guess I can’t expect him to just be Deadpool in every movie.

Surrey: … surprisingly great, even if you couldn’t completely escape the fact that Pikachu has the same voice as Deadpool.

Herman: … distracting. I’m not a huge fan of Reynolds’s to begin with, but the forced witty banter kept killing the magic of watching the world of Pokémon come to life. I’m not sure the whole “talking” gimmick was even necessary to sell the already pretty gimmick-y idea of melding animated characters with actual humans and also noir.

Gruttadaro: … surprisingly fine? I stopped thinking about how it was Deadpool after about five minutes. Now, Ryan Reynolds as Tim’s dad—that’s a whole other story.

5. If you had to have a Pokémon partner, which one would it be?

Surrey: My favorite Pokémon is Gengar, who’d definitely be fun to troll with. But if a Pokémon had to embody similar characteristics as its human companion, I have no choice but to take in a Psyduck so that we could be anxious together.

Snowden: I like to think I would have a Rapidash because I love horses, but that seems less convenient to take places. Maybe a Vulpix?

Bergmann: Snorlax, because we share an affinity for naps wherever.

Peters: I was going to say Scyther but it basically has scimitars for arms and what if I wanted to hug it? I’m going to go with Tyrogue, with the understanding that he’d eventually evolve into Hitmonlee.

Herman: I want to say something dope like Ponyta, but if we’re being real Snorlax is way more my speed.

Gruttadaro: Gimme the guy who falls asleep in the middle of traffic. I would like to get on his level.

6. On a scale of 1 to 10, grade Bill Nighy’s evil plan.

Gruttadaro: A hard 1. The plan was “we’re all Pokémon now?” What the hell? That solves zero problems. (Which, what was the original problem? His health?) Also, he tied up his son, the guy from You’re the Worst, and got a Ditto to pose as his son. Bad form all around.

Snowden: 6/10: Flawed execution, great Ditto run, philosophically pretty problematic. The gas reminded me of Scarecrow in Batman Begins.

Surrey: 2. If your consciousness manifests within Mewtwo, that’s cool, but you should probably take better care of your completely vulnerable physical body. If I were Justice Smith—and if Detective Pikachu wasn’t rated PG—I’d have tossed Bill Nighy from the top of that skyscraper.

Bergmann: This gets a solid 4 for pure evil-plan-ness, with a point added for Bill Nighy’s Bill Nighy–ness. So you want to put all the souls and essences of humans in Ryme City into their Pokémon, because they can all evolve after a certain level? Cool, but I can guarantee humans are genetically superior to at least a handful of Pokémon even at peak evolution. Also, there’s an entire field of study on human evolution, Mr. Rich Evil Science guy. Why rely on Pokémon when you’ve got good old Chuck Darwin?

Herman: 2. I thought we were gonna get a solid five minutes of slapstick out of humans suddenly finding themselves in the bodies of their Pokémon, and we barely got 30 seconds!

Peters: On a scale of 1 to 10 I give it -0.5 Otto Octaviuses.

7. If you found out that the Pikachu you had just established a meaningful connection with was actually inhabited by the soul of your father, how would that affect your relationship with your father? What about your relationship with Pikachus?

Gruttadaro: Well, we’d definitely never watch Deadpool 2 together.

Bergmann: It would definitely be weird asking my Pikachu to pay for utilities “just for the month” and asking my dad to do a Quick Attack.

Snowden: Pikachu remains undefeated as the most adorable creature ever drawn. I would probably have a lot of issues dissociating that with my father … but not in an Electra sort of way? I think I would have been way more affected by having to live inside my Psyduck for 20 minutes.

Herman: I would get very into whatever the Pokémon version of PETA is.

Peters: All I know is it’d take much longer to accept than like, a quick scene change. I think I would’ve definitely gotten on the train at the end and given myself the ride and maybe a week back in the suburbs to process, but do you, Tim.

Surrey: You would find all three of us in therapy. Our therapist is a Chansey.

8. Which Pokémon deserves a standalone film next?

Snowden: Squirtle Squad is the only correct answer.

Bergmann: Give me a Bruce Lee, Enter the Dragon–style brawl movie starring Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan vs. the rest of the fighting types.

Peters: Again, a Warrior-type tale of revenge and personal discovery, starring Hitmonlee and some other fighting types.

Herman: We still don’t know what that Lickilicky was doing by itself on the train, and I for one would like to find out!

Surrey: It’s funny you ask: I’ve provided a decades worth of Poké-verse planning for Warner Bros., free of charge! So let me just say: I’m thrilled Pokémon is getting the live-action treatment it deserves, but we must now do the same for Yu-Gi-Oh! If you thought CGI Pikachu was cute, you ain’t ready for Kuriboh.

Gruttadaro: Let’s do a FernGully reboot starring only Bulbasaurs. Who says no?