Quick Hit: The late Anton Yelchin stars in this admittedly flawed adaptation of one of my favorite book series.
Odd Thomas. Little Ozzie. Stormy Llewelyn. Fungus Bob. These are all characters that make their big screen appearance in 2013’s Odd Thomas, which is based on the book series by Dean Koontz. Koontz is a prolific writer, having put out dozens and dozens of books, and the Odd Series is no different in that it features about six books. In the books, Odd is a beloved and strange character whose inner voice makes the books worth reading. The movie did its best to capture something like that, but there’s only so much you can do with a character whose best voice is inside their head.
Odd Thomas (Yelchin) is a young man that lives in the fictional town of Pico Mundo, California. There he works as a fry cook and oh by the way, he sees dead people. Forgive me the Shyamalan pun, but he can only see them because the dead don’t talk. He uses what they show him to help them move on, and sometimes bring justice to their killers. The film opens with a show stopper of a sequence that involves Odd chasing a killer after confronting him about the dried blood he keeps in his pocket from the latest victim. It may not be fully in keeping with how Odd is presented in the books – here he comes off more like a bruiser than I think he is – but it’s fun and Yelchin works it.
If there’s one thing I loved the most about the movie, it’s the actors’ performances. Yelchin is a wonderful Odd – bringing that slight zing to the delivery of his lines, particularly when he’s using voice over or talking to himself – that makes the overuse dialogue to give us Odd’s thoughts feel welcome. Addison Timlin, who plays Odd’s predestined girlfriend, Stormy, lands the right mix of sweet and saucy that Stormy should be. Her dialogue feels a bit off at times – but I think that lands more on the writing, which seems to force in lines from the book that feel natural (“Loop me in Odd one”) more often than they need to be. But Yelchin and Timlin have good chemistry, and this shows the best in the film’s climax. Willem Dafoe, always terrific, does a great job as a the police chief that keeps getting his date night interrupted.
I only have two complaints about the film, one small and one large, leading to its final grade. The minor one is the bodachs (for the uninitiated, bodachs are creatures that show up when large, flashy deaths are going to take place). I think director Stephen Sommers does a good job as presenting them as what they are – creeping, crawling creatures that surround and infect us with poor feelings, even if we aren’t sure why we are feeling icky. The complaint comes in over their usage, which eventually turns them into a piece of the background. They are a huge part of the books too, but when they keep popping up, the CGI eventually begins to blur a bit, and we start to see the flaws in the design of them – bug eyes and all.
The second, larger complaint, is the complete waste of Patton Oswalt as Little Ozzie. Appearing only briefly, there is no sense of the mentor relationship that kindles between Odd and Ozzie. Instead, he comes off only as a grumpy old man. Little Ozzie was a huge (pun intended) character in the comics, and there is no use for him here. It seemed like more of a slap in the face to include him at all. If I had not read the books, I would have just thought that Patton Oswalt liked the series and asked for a cameo.
All these things come together, and we’re left with an emotional climax. I know the first time I watched this movie, it hit me really hard. When I read the books, it hit me harder. And that’s what probably buoys up this movie for me – it does a great job at recreating the feelings I had reading the books. I’m giving it a “B+” despite the fact that it probably deserves lower. Critics are human too, ya know.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"