In the theater crowded with anxious children, I strike up a conversation with young Justin sitting next to me. Eagerly he shares his opinion of the last Pokemon movie (released a mere eight months ago): "The ending stunk... too mushy!" Meanwhile, his father wonders why parents don't get in for free.
It's as obvious as the Pikachu on Justin's T-shirt that Dad's wallet has been the loser of past Pokemon battles, and Pokemon 2000 is a lot like an info-mercial, its musical score trumpeting, "We all live in a Pokemon world."
At the conclusion of the opening half-hour cartoon starring an electrified Pikachu saving small Pokemon creatures in a big storm, Justin's Dad asks hopefully, "Is that it?" "No, we're just beginning," replies his impatient son.
The main attraction also features rough weather that shipwrecks Pokemon trainer Ash, Misty, Tracy, and their Pokemon, on an island. The friendly natives invite Ash to play the role of "chosen one" in their annual festival. But things get complicated leaving Ash battling evil Pokemon collector Jirarudan, who is trying to capture three powerful Pokemon birds. Interference with these feathered creatures will cause havoc in weather. If Jirarudan manages to catch all three, he will have access to the rare undersea Pokemon Lugia, and power to unleash mass global destruction.
While Ash is busy saving the world, the writers attempt to develop greater female appeal by including a romantic story angle. But when Misty expresses verbal affection toward Ash, after much teasing about being Ash's girlfriend, Justin's "Ugh! That's sick." was echoed by most of the young male audience members.
Besides some mild religious overtones when Ash fulfills tribal prophecy and is revered with god-like status, there is little content to concern parents. Pokemon 2000 even tries to promote cooperation when Ash's archrivals Jessie and James decide to work with him.
The credits roll while Weird Al Yankovic sings his hilarious Polkamon and I'm convinced this movie is better than the last one. Justin disagrees. Yet despite his complaining, I'm willing to bet he will be back in the theater for the next installment.