One time, I was in line for a coffee with my wife, and the man behind me asked if I could move to the side. He then extended his arm over my shoulder and held his phone near my face, and I saw what looked like a pink cartoon egg flying around the barista on the screen. “Got it!” he yelled, and then he left without ordering a coffee. “That was a Pokémon,” my wife said.
That is all I know about Pokémon.
It wasn’t a very good first impression, so when my younger brother-in-law, Alec, asked me if I wanted to see the critically obliterated, sensory-overloaded Pokémon package called a movie (Pokémon: Detective Pikachu), I said no, and I meant no with all of the being of my soul, and if my soul had a soul – that too.
But, God bless him, Alec persisted, and the text above was our exchange before I surrendered. Family should always go first. I truly believe this, even when I truly believed this movie was going to be a piece of crap.
Fast forward to life after seeing Pokémon: Detective Pikachu: I can honestly say that I am better off because I went to see Pokémon: Detective Pikachu with my brother-in-law and not because of Pokémon: Detective Pikachu.
Alec reminded me that viewing a movie with someone takes up the majority of the reason a movie is made in the first place: A movie can be communal, instigating conversation, encouraging as many laughs as groans, and establishing a sense of satisfaction or dissonance, chaos or peace.
In a way, a movie can be a prayer.
Because it stirs a communicative rapport, I don’t know how you could not call a movie a prayer.
I also don’t know how you could call Pokémon: Detective Pikachu a movie, but like prayers, movies are not perfect either. I often find myself running late for work and trying to communicate with God while driving through rampant morning traffic. It’s an attempt, I believe it is still a worthy connection, but it’s also not safe.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu isn’t safe either – especially for your brain cells. There is barely a story in its CGI-saturated prioritization, Justice Smith’s acting is statuesque, and the second half is a narrative mess.
But, who said “safe” was required for prayers or moviemaking?
At least “Pokémon” made Pokémon fans like Alec happy, and when it came in small, less obnoxious doses, I did enjoy the visual imagination on the screen, which reminded me of the cantina scenes in the Star Wars series. Also, Ryan Reynolds is the perfect smart aleck voice for Pikachu.
Most importantly, I enjoyed the conversation this movie provoked. Like a prayer, a movie propels dialogue. This time, instead of God to talk to, I had my brother-in-law, Alec, and he is a wonderful and quirky addition to my family. In fact, he is just as entertaining and prayerful than any movie out there.
Alec taught me the ways of the Pokémon. He collected the Pokémon cards when I used to collect baseball cards. Pokémon was the hit animated show of his youth when I would put on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He followed most of the video game series as I would follow Mario or Sonic.
Alec is a safe place for me to exchange opinions, vent, and shoot the breeze. That’s what I do when I pray to God – I shoot the breeze. And, instead of shooting Pikachu, I praise his cute, fuzzy, yellowy self for bringing me together with my brother-in-law. Amen.