You Gotta See This: Odd Thomas
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Addison Timlin, Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Not rated but nothing here seemed past PG-13 due to some language, and the entire movie involving the dead and occult, Running time 97 minutes, 2014, Mystery/Comedy/Thriller
After GI JOE: Rise of Cobra, I’d pretty much written director Stephen Sommers off. This is the guy that not only did one of the worst movies I’d ever seen, but also movies like The Mummy Returns (2001) and Van Helsing. So you get the idea- big, CGI-infested crap with no soul.
So while initially turned off to Odd Thomas in finding out that he wrote and directed it, a friend put in a good word and I checked it out. And though it’s not prefect, it’s definitely worth an hour and forty minutes of your time.
As a heads up, I’ve never watched this trailer so I don’t know if it contains spoilers of any kind.
Based on the novels by Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas, the film follows the titular character performing his job as a cook, being the best boyfriend he can, and helping dead people. With clairvoyant abilities, Odd does everything he can to make sure the dead are laid to rest either by destroying them or solving their murder depending on their intentions with this world. But Odd’s senses have been allowing him to pick up on an especially grisly plot that involve as much death and destruction as he’s ever seen and since he’s the only one that can see it, he’s got to do something about it.
The one issue I have with articles like this one that rant and rave about how great a movie is that you “HAVE TO SEE” is that they build the movie up too much. How can you be enticed without reading it, but how can there be any surprises if all the article says is “YOU’LL NEVER SEE THE ENDING!” so I’ll try to be careful.
First, I want to throw out that the special effects are secondary to character and story. This movie places the majority of its focus on the plot rather than special effects first and everything else being left to play catch up. But for its budget of 27 million and considering the number of effect shots we’re given, everything fits together quite well and nothing is distractingly displaced.
I’m not too much of a fan of Gilmore Girls-esque dialogue where everyone is verbally on their toes 24/7, but in a movie like this, less intelligent characters don’t really have a place. The stoner sidekick we’re used to seeing of the best friend would be left in a mental desert with no direction so the banter is fitting. You know whose banter I really hate, speaking of humor and the supernatural? Joss Whedon’s banter, that who. Yeah, I said it. Just had to get it out, no matter how random. Sorry. Moving on.
The special effects and incessant wit of every character aside, Odd Thomas, put simply, is about a cook that can see/commune/interact with the dead. Played perfectly by the 2011 Fright Night’s Anton Yelchin, his abilities are left fairly vague because the dead are mysterious, I guess. It’s best this way though, because long expositions to address everything Odd can do come in the form of quick descriptions to fill us in as we go along or we just see it all take place. One thing this movie won’t do is bore you.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Fright Night remake due to the tone, subject matter and it’s lead but it also brought thoughts of one of my all-time favorites, Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners. Horror/Comedies/Supernatural seem to be a tough balance to strike and maybe it’s my own zombie story that makes me naturally inclined to support films like this, but then again, I guess my own story would have been written due to my own love of films like this. Art imitating life imitating art, I guess.
Keeping Horror and Comedy together and not tipping the scales too far to one side is difficult so these types of films never seem to do that well regardless of quality.
Something else that makes me unable to not recommend this movie to you is the legal trouble it was left with that kept it from any kind of theatrical release in the states. And from those legal battles, Odd Thomas has only recently been left to Netflix for us to watch so do yourself a favor. It’d be one thing for this movie to have gotten little attention for a very small fan base to fawn over but this thing has gotten nothing so check it out.
Seriously, I said I’d never watch another Stephen Sommers movie after GI JOE, so you know I mean this. Gah, such a terrible movie on every single level.