Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a surprisingly great adaptation of the Nintendo Pokémon universe. Each and every pocket monster brought to life feels true to the original games designs while also making them fit a realistic work. Huge fun. It’s also a pretty good representation of classic Films Noir. Many story elements follow the hard boiled detective narrative perfectly. And it also, it would appear, take place in the same fictional universe as Home Alone. Yes, the Christmas movie written by John Hughes. How do we know this? Fittingly, it’s all about movies.
Early on in Detective Pikachu, our hero Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) enters his missing father’s apartment to find it in disarray. The TV is on and an old movie plays. That old movie? Why it’s Angels with Filthy Souls, the fictional gangster movie Kevin McCallister watches in Home Alone.
Angels with Filthy Souls was a send-up of ’30s gangster movies, excessively violent for the era. Specifically, Home Alone director Chris Columbus parodied the 1938 film Angels with Dirty Faces, the movie that defined James Cagney’s career. Filthy Souls is not real; Columbus specifically shot the portions of the fake movie for Kevin to watch and later use for free pizza. It is unmistakably Angels with Filthy Souls on the TV in Detective Pikachu. So does Home Alone exist in the Pokémon universe? Is Detective Pikachu in the John Hughes universe?
Mark Sanger, my editor, and myself were putting together the assembly/director’s cut. We needed something and I hadn’t figured out what I was going to put on that TV yet,” Letterman said. “It was always scripted there was some film noir-y, detective film there. Just as a laugh, we got the movie that they shot for Home Alone off of YouTube at some point and used it as a temp. We could never beat it! It got to the point of it being well, why not try to license it. We got it cleared, miraculously, and it became this funny inside joke just to us.”
So, while it would be cool to think about Cubones and Pidgies roaming around fictional Shermer, IL, at Christmastime, it’s just a fun in-joke. Keep the change, ya filthy Apioms.
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Images: WB/20th Century Fox