Odd Thomas – film review

"Odd Thomas" theatrical  poster.
“Odd Thomas” theatrical poster.
Odd Thomas is a movie based on the book by Dean Koontz (actually, a series of books). It stars Anton Yelchin as Odd Thomas, Addison Timlin as his adorable girlfriend Stormy Llewellyn, and Willem Dafoe as Chief Wyatt Porter. Odd is a clairvoyant short-order cook in a small desert town. He can communicate with the dead. He solves crimes. Picture The Sixth Sense meets The Dresden Files with a little irreverent humor thrown in.

At first I wondered how I missed this last year, but it never had a wide release and went direct to DVD and Netflix a few months ago. As such, it’s not rated, but I’d give it a PG-13. I’m very surprised this film wasn’t picked up. The story is quirky, fun, and creepy. A clairvoyant solving crimes? You’ve seen it before, but not with this cheeky flair. When you watch Odd use his psychic powers to flip, slice, and sizzle his way around the grill you’ll realize that it is the little touches that make this movie stand out.

The characters are fun, not typical. The dialog is clever and glib. Odd may see his powers as a responsibility to fight evil, but the effect is more like a neighbor pitching in to help another neighbor than a melodramatic, spandex clad superhero. It’s a very refreshing take.

Odd’s clairvoyance gives him prophetic dreams, intuition, the ability to understand the dead (who cannot speak), and a new twist on the genre: Odd can see the dark denizens of the spirit world who feed on evil, the bodachs. They gather like cockroaches around it. This is what lets Odd know that his day isn’t going to be a nice one spent spooning with Stormy when a customer comes into his restaurant surrounded with the creepy things.

Stormy, who—along with the police chief—knows about Odd’s gift, encourages him to just ignore them, but Odd is compelled to get to the bottom of it. What he finds is a complicated plot to cause mass murder in his quaint little town, but who is involved and where are they planning to commit the crime? Odd has to figure all this out while being framed and avoiding the attention of the bodachs. Fortunately, there’s Stormy to help things stay upbeat.

Since I’m not familiar with Koontz’s books, I cannot compare the movie Odd Thomas to the original source material. I can say that the movie works, especially because of the unique main characters who give the story its strength. The irreverence also sets the story apart from more serious efforts in the clairvoyant/medium genre. When Odd finds a dead body in his tub as part of a set up, he rolls it up in a bed sheet to move it and wraps it with belts. Looking down at the gruesome package, he says,

    The fun part is that I’m going to either be arrested for murder or rolling the biggest joint ever.

Between Yelchin’s deadpan delivery and the absurd yet suspenseful setup, the scene hit my funny bone just right. There is enough humor to take the edge off the gruesome events and subject matter. My only complaint was that the CG budget on the bodachs wasn’t high enough. They stood out as fake here and there, which took me out of the story.

In the end, however, the strong performances, witty dialog, and entertaining plot line more than kept my attention until the credits rolled. I was sad to see Odd Thomas end. I liked Odd’s world, and had grown to like the characters. It made me want to read the books. Maybe I’ll review those, too.

Release Date: February 28, 2014 (USA)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

MySF Rating: Four point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 60%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (social drinking)
Language: 2 (some mild and stronger language)
Nudity: 0
Sexuality: 2 (lots of snuggling and spooning, couples in bed, but no sex)
Violence: 4 (creepy gross-out violence, death, comedy with a corpse, gunplay, explosions)


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