Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

image for Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

Short takes

Not recommended under 5, parental guidance to 10 (frightening scenes, mild themes and violence).

classification logo

This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Pokémon: Detective Pikachu
  • a review of Pokémon: Detective Pikachu completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 13 May 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to frightening scenes, mild themes and violence
Children aged 5–10 Parental guidance recommended, particularly for the younger children in this age group, due to frightening scenes, mild themes and violence.
Children over the age of 10 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Pokémon: Detective Pikachu
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and fantasy violence, some scenes may scare younger children
Length: 104 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) receives news that his estranged father and police officer, Harry Goodman, has died in a mysterious car accident.  When Tim arrives to collect his father’s personal belongings, he discovers that there may be a lot more to the story than he has been told; including why his father’s Pokémon partner ‘Pikachu’ (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) has lost its memory, and why on earth this Pokémon and Tim can communicate with each other.  After teaming up with the wisecracking Pikachu and fast-talking journalist intern Lucy (Kathryn Newton), the trio uncover clues that lead them all the way to an evil plot to destroy the Pokémon-Human alliance as they know it.  


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Death of a parent; betrayal of trust; friendship.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is frequent violence in this movie including:

  • Pokémon frequently attack humans and other Pokémon using various styles of fighting, such as: punching, hitting with objects, breathing fire, etc.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Several Pokémon may frighten young children as they appear more monster-like than cute (particularly ‘Mewtwo’).
  • Humans are transformed into Pokémon without their consent, causing the humans some distress. Younger children may find this disturbing.
  • When Pokémon are exposed to a noxious gas, they transform from cute and benign  into gremlin-like creatures that become violent and aggressive with glowing eyes and sharp teeth. 
  • Ash is attacked and chased by a pack of Pokémon that have inhaled the noxious gas. They have glowing eyes, sharp teeth and they snap and move in a fast and unpredictable way that young children are likely to find scary. 
  • Pikachu must fight a dragon-like Pokémon in an illegal, underground battle. The dragon has inhaled the noxious gas and become a violent and frightening creature. 
  • When Ash and Lucy go out to a secret laboratory, they explore the facility and see different Pokémon in secure cages that are having experiments performed on them. It is a tense and scary scene, particularly when Ash accidentally opens the enclosures and some of the more monster-like creatures escape and begin chasing Lucy through the facility. 
  • Ash and Lucy escape from the research laboratory and find themselves in a vast forest. All of a sudden there is violent earthquakes that cause the ground to swell and move and deep ravines to open. Ash, Lucy and their Pokémon companions find themselves fighting not to be thrown off cliffs, fall down ravines or be crushed by falling boulders. It is a tense and precarious sequence that many small children will find very scary. 
  • Younger children may find the character of Mewtwo very scary as the creature is quite menacing, violent and has a monster-like quality. 
  • There are two Pokémon that 'merge' and transform into human characters or clones. As they go through the transformation process, their features become less human. For example, they have smooth faces with small black dots instead of eyes - which looks extremely strange and very creepy. 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Pikachu is hit by a flying stone and appears to be dying but is healed. This may distress young children as the sequence before he is healed is fairly drawn out.
  • Tim is thrown out of the window of a skyscraper and is hanging off the ledge. He is close to falling to his death and the scene is tense and precarious.
  • Tim’s father is depicted as dying in an explosive car crash. He turns out to have survived.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Pokémon are forced to battle each other in underground rings. They are cheered on by shady and frightening looking people. The scenes are reminiscent of illegal dog or rooster fighting.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Nothing of concern for this age group. 

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Nothing of concern, however Parents should be aware that there is a huge entertainment, gaming and physical merchandise industry surrounding the Pokémon franchise. This film will introduce young children to the characters in this world.

Sexual references

There are some mild sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Several subtle jokes about male genitalia that will be missed by children.
  • A male character says he is very attracted to a female character.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • Nothing of concern

Use of substances

There are some mild references made to the use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Several subtle jokes about drug use that stem from misunderstandings when discussing the purple smoke that is central to the plot. No actual drug use.

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Shut up
  • Shove it
  • Stupid
  • Damn

In a nutshell

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is a visually fantastic live action film based on the video game of the same name.  While slightly thin on plot, this film is a visually exciting and an easy watch for children and adults alike.  Parents should be conscious that many of the Pokémon may frighten or distress younger children under 5 as they are not always cute but can be a little more ‘monster-like’ and fierce. Also, some of the subtle jokes made by Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu, whilst aimed at adult viewers, may be a little on the nose.  This is most likely to be enjoyed by children over the age of 8, with parental guidance until age 10. 

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Friendship.
  • Doing what is right, even if it is scary.
  • Acknowledging when we are lonely and need support from others.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • Sexist gender expectations – a character is told to “throw like a man”.
  • Approaching real animals to try to replicate the Pokémon-Human interactions in the film.
  • Illegal animal fighting in the real world.