I suppose that it’s a sign that we’ve passed the peak of Pokemon frenzy that the word “Nintendo” got a bigger reaction from the kids in the audience than the word “Pokemon,” but this movie mustered enough of the old Pokemon spirit to keep the kids pretty happy.
Like the first two Pokemon features, this one includes both a short Pokemon-on-their-own adventure and then a longer feature story along the familiar lines of Pokemon Trainer Ash and his pals save the world. Interestingly, this time the threat comes not from a mad scientist, as in the second Pokemon movie, or from a rogue Pokemon, as in the first movie, but from a little girl named Molly who unwittingly causes havoc when she meets up with some Pokemons who grant her every wish.
Pokemons, of course, are those adorable little pocket monsters who love to be caught by their human trainers, who carry them around and deploy them against the pocket monsters of other trainers, to see who is the best. Most adults find them somewhere between annoying and painful, but children love them. They are always drawn to the idea of hidden sources of power accessed by seemingly powerless figures (think of Superman, Power Rangers, etc.). And they love the memorizing, sorting, and of course collecting opportunity that Pokemons afford. This can be an important part of their social development, and parents should respect their affection for Pokemons while maintaining control over the accumulation of clutter.
Parents should know that some children may be upset by characters in peril (though no one gets hurt). The opening segment includes a scary dog, though he later cooperates with the Pokemons. In the feature story, Molly has lost her mother and the magical Pokemon that she thinks is her father steals Ash’s mother for her. Her very loving father leaves her to pursue a scientific inquiry and disappears. This may be of concern to some children. The little girl’s mother returns only during the closing credits, with no explanation. There is a little bit of “I want to be your boyfriend” humor, but it is very brief and utterly G-rated.
Families who see this movie might want to talk about how having one’s wishes granted may not always be a good thing, and about the way the Pokemons take care of each other in the short segment and take care of their human trainers in the feature movie. Older kids may get a kick out of the way that the silly Team Rocket, always trying to get ahead of Ash and his friends, end up helping them out because “without them, we’d be out of show business!” They may also want to talk about the way Molly sees the shape of her Pokemon friend in a cloud, and how we can keep those we love inside us always.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the other Pokemon movies and “Kiki’s Delivery Service.”