Odd Thomas: Odd Becomes Him
Odd Thomas is an enjoyable indie ride from the director of The Mummy. The movie does a lot with little and is buoyed by wonderful performances from Anton Yelchin and Addison Timlin.
Odd Thomas lives up to its name as it bounces around in tone (humor, romance, death, ghost story) yet zips by with a sense of urgency. The story of a man named Odd saving the world from the dead is 30% paranormal detective comedy, 20% ghost story, 20% romantic comedy and 30% a combination of all those things.
Anton Yelchin and Addison Timlin build a neat relationship and they manage to be charming while saying lines like “you are not allowed to go playing around other Hell gates.” You like the two and care as demons called Bodachs harass them insistently. Also, the constant narration and death humor are handled well by Yelchin who is able to pull off quirky dialogue like “if I’m caught I will be arrested for murder or rolling the biggest joint ever.”
The plot involves a moldy guy, corrupt cops and lots of death. It has the look of a PG-13 film yet features dark source material. You get the feeling that this is just another day in the life of Odd. His exuberance masks the death, ghosts and secrets he has dealt with on an everyday basis. Life for Odd is not normal and it is nice that the film doesn’t portray him as a dour death detective. You can tell Stephen Sommers loved the source material and went great lengths to give the audience likable characters who risk their necks to save the world from jerky ghosts.
The lack of budget is a good thing because Sommers couldn’t rely on visual spectacles. Characters are put front and center and it brings back memories of Sommers Mummy film which featured likable characters. The chemistry between Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz was fantastic and it allowed you to care for the people as they battled sand storms, evil dead and pesky thieves. It was breezy fun that spawned copious sequels, prequels and sequels to a prequel of a spin-off off a sequel (true story).
The biggest problems with the film were the legal issues that prevented it from getting a wide release. The films release was delayed due to broken promises and lack of marketing and was dumped to the DVD wasteland where hopefully it will find a cult audience oasis.
Despite the tonal irregularities and delays author Koontz was happy with the film:
Faithful to the book? Yes, in every way that matters. Odd is Odd. Stormy is Stormy. The themes are rigorously adhered to. Is much missing? Yes. Ozzie has one scene, and he has become a sculptor instead of a mystery writer. Odd’s backstory–mom and dad–has been condensed to one scene because test audiences found the backstory too dark. Odd has been given a new power: He sometimes touches someone/something and has startling visions of how some real event went down earlier, as a means of conveying facts without talking-head scenes, but it really, really works.
Odd Thomas works because of the performances and Summer’s ability to summon his Mummy skills to make a breezy, likable CGI-fest that plays fast and loose. Embrace the Odd.