Pokémon are like herpes; they just keep coming back.
Those little colourful creatures were created in 1995 (in Japan of course) and quickly took over the civilized world via video games, comics, cartoons, playing cards, merchandise, airplane paint jobs, groundbreaking augmented reality (who can forget Pokémon Go?) and now, almost 25 years after their first flare up, the little "Pocket Monsters" have their first live action feature film—Pokémon Detective Pikachu opens this week at the Whistler Village 8.
Taking a page out of 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit, this one is a hybrid of live action and animated characters living together in one world. Justice Smith (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) stars as Tim, a 21-year-old ex-wannabe professional Pokémon trainer living in Ryme City, a metropolis where humans and Pokémon live together harmoniously.
While out searching for his missing father ('cause you can't have a kids' movie without a dead or absent parent), Tim finds a Pikachu (voiced by Vancouver's own Ryan Reynolds) and realizes that he alone can communicate with the little lightning-tailed bugger.
Together the duo navigate their way through a child-friendly noir detective flick that's also absurd enough (thanks to Reynolds/Deadpool's snark/voice coming from a cute furry animal) to keep non-Pokémon fanatics entertained.
Detective Pikachu is no Cool World (1991's R-rated cartoon/live action sexual thriller starring Brad Pitt) but director Rob Letterman (Monsters vs. Aliens, Shark Tale) has pieced together a standard-but-not-terrible buddy cop film with pretty slick visuals and a well-constructed fantasy world.
He gets props for trying to slide subversive humour into a kids' flick (will your eight-year-old wonder what a "birth canal" actually is?) but not all the jokes really land and the plot feels a little overstuffed at times. Even so, Detective Pikachu is fun for kids and one of the better videogame adaptation flicks we've seen (sorry Super Mario Bros).
Also opening at the Village 8, but with no pre-screenings (bad sign this time of year), The Hustle stars Rebel Wilson (How to be Single, Bridesmaids) and Anne Hathaway (The Devil Wears Prada, Oceans 8) as a couple of con-artists working the south of France beat.
Directed by newcomer Chris Addison, this one looks like a pretty typical odd-couple comedy with a bunch of jokes I won't care for, but Hathaway is always a strong presence on-screen. Maybe she can save it. (I doubt it though.)
The final flick opening this week, also without pre-screenings, is Poms. Looking like the bastard love-child of Calendar Girls and The Full Monty, this one stars Diane Keaton as a vivacious woman who starts a cheerleading squad in her new nursing home.
At 73, Keaton is still a force on the screen (and Pam Grier co-stars!) so if you feel like a nursing home cheerleader movie is the missing ingredient in your life, you'd best act fast cause this one might not be here next week.
On the small screen, true crime freaks still looking to scrape the bottom of the barrel can check out the four-part Evil Genius series on Netflix.
It starts with a pizza delivery guy with a bomb strapped to him and just gets crazier from there. By the time the threads are unravelled we're given a look into the sordid underbelly of humanity (or is it just White American humanity?). Either way, it's chilling. Also worth checking out, Captivated re-visits the 1991 trial of Pamela Smart, the schoolteacher accused of hiring three students (one allegedly her lover) to murder her husband just shy of their one-year wedding anniversary. The trial was immediately jumped on by the era's tabloid journalism shows like Inside Edition and Geraldo.
The attention paid to this crime was the spark of our now ubiquitous 24-hour news fetish (the tipping point was O.J. in 1994) and it's interesting to look back with hindsight and watch that dark obsession incubate. Crime doesn't pay kids! And you don't want to be that kind of famous.