Spoiler alert! We’re discussing the ending of “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu.” If you don’t want to know what happens to the humans and monsters in the live-action adventure movie, stop reading now. Come back after you’ve seen it.
If you’re like us, you didn’t see the ending of “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu” coming until it happened and you said, “What? No. YES?!” aloud in the theater. And then you asked the guy sitting next to you if that indeed just did happen. And he confirmed that, yes, it did.
Fortunately for all of us, star Ryan Reynolds and director Rob Letterman agreed to decode that gonzo ending, which feels like a mix of “Get Out,” “Lilo & Stitch” and “Field of Dreams.”
In the words of Reynolds, though, the movie is more like a Turner Classic Movie with an old-school twist.
“You have to sit and sort of go, ‘Wait, hold on. I’ve got to break this down in my head. How does this work?’ ” Reynolds says. “I love that that happens. I love that the unexpected is possible in a movie like this.”
We’ll do the hard work for you.
** Seriously, this your last warning. Bail out now if you don’t want to know. **
Ryan Reynolds voices Pikachu, who has a voice only Tim (Justice Smith) can hear in "Pokemon: Detective Pikachu." (Photo: WARNER BROS. PICTURES)
Let’s break it down. Quick recap.
Tim (Justice Smith) comes to human/monster town Ryme City after learning that his estranged father, Harry, has died. On his way to uncovering what happened, Tim teams up with Pikachu, an adorable yellow creature who talks to him in Ryan Reynolds’ voice.
Pikachu, who has amnesia, shows up after finding Harry’s name and address written inside his tiny detective hat. “He assumes (Harry is) his Pokemon partner,” says Letterman.
So Pikachu and Tim proceed to go on a dangerous quest to solve the mystery of Harry’s death, filled with Pikachu’s Reynolds’-flavored witticisms; colorful, outrageous scenery; an explosive duck (Psyduck); and an eager reporter (Lucy Stevens).
But this is where the craziness hits 11: As it turns out, Harry is not dead. Harry is inside of Pikachu.
In the end, we learn that Tim’s dad Harry actually didn’t die in a fiery car accident, as it may have appeared. He was saved by a powerful man-made Pokemon, Mewtwo – who, by the way, Harry was initially tasked with taking down before realizing that Howard, the guy (Bill Nighy) who put him up to catching Mewtwo, is actually the baddie.
“In Pokemon canon, Mewtwo has almost godlike power,” Letterman explains. “He really is Frankenstein’s monster. He has every right to be angry at his creators, but he ends up being more human than the humans that created him.”
Mewtwo saves Harry by putting Harry’s soul into a new vehicle: Pikachu’s body.
“In doing so, Harry loses his memory, but his heart will know who he is,” Letterman says.
Which means …
Tim learns that he was bonding with his Pikachu-inhabiting dad throughout the movie, without either of them knowing it. (Pikachu sacrificed himself so that Harry could live on in his monster body.)
It makes certain moments more poignant in retrospect, like when Pikachu says to Tim, “I can tell you that if your dad was here, he’d hug you so hard your bones would pop.”
(That is, if you’re not too preoccupied with worrying about Harry’s mental state when he learns that he was once a human father and then was turned into a tiny, naked monster without his knowledge and was riding around telling scatological jokes on his son’s shoulder before returning to his human form. HARRY HAS BEEN THROUGH THINGS.)
The real Ryan Reynolds does show up onscreen
In the end, Harry (played by – surprise! – Reynolds) magically appears in his human form. And in a dramatic ticket-ripping moment, Tim decides to not to travel back home but instead to stay in Ryme City and get to know his dear old (young) dad.
“To me, it’s wish fulfillment,” says Reynolds, a dad himself with a third baby on the way.
When Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) and Tim (Justice Smith) meet, Pikachu doesn't remember anything and Tim just wants to figure out what happened to his dad. (Photo: WARNER BROS. PICTURES)
Why end it that way?
Letterman, who has kids of his own, says that the surprise finale was the main reason he decided to make “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu.”
“The father he’s been working for has been with him all along was my pitch line,” he says. “It’s a script about Tim finding his dad.”
To Letterman, the movie is reminiscent of “Field of Dreams,” when Kevin Costner gets to play catch with his deceased father, who has reappeared as a young man.
“ ‘Field of Dreams,’ the ending, I shed man tears to this day,” Letterman says. “The whole thing is designed to hit that ending from the moment it started.”
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