The grown men and women who market Pokémon: The Movie 2000 are promoting six new soulless and jittery animated characters as an exciting advance on last fall’s lucrative, mechanical ”Pokémon: The First Movie.” But – minus a stake in Nintendo – any grown men and women who pay to see the movie face a harrowing ordeal. I can think of three survival plans.
(1) They can drop mescaline for a spectacular psychedelic experience (illegal; no endorsement implied). This may prove most effective during the syrupy ”Pikachu’s Rescue Adventure” that precedes the ponderous feature ”The Power of One.”
(2) They can gnaw their own arms off while the children accompanying them bounce up and down shrieking ”Pikachu! Squirtle! Meowth!,” oblivious to the phony hug-the-earth messages passing for moral value. (The Backstreet Boy-ish kid hero, Ash, learns, ”In your hand rests the world and its fate.” )
(3) They can marvel uneasily at the fantastically weird Japanese-ness of this Game Boy-based phenomenon, the mutant blending of the kitschy and the grimly symbolic. When Ash works in harmony with three powerful Pokémon birds to save his Nipponese home islands in ”The Power of One,” is he demonstrating Zen concentration? Is he the godhead in a Christian allegory? Do kids care? ”Balbasaur! Zapdos! Misty!,” they scream, in a din that drowns out all adult howls.