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Review: Odd Thomas is a Weak Dean Koontz Adaptation

review score 3odd-thomas-officialThe titular character, Odd Thomas is a short order cook in a small town restaurant. Odd appears ordinary, but has the somewhat secret ability to see dead people as well as a malevolent breed of supernatural entity known as bodachs. When Odd senses something destructive is in store for his town, he joins forces with his girlfriend Stormy and the pair try to save the town from ruin. Maybe they should have just stayed home.

There are a few great films that use voiceover narration, but in most cases it is unnecessary and ultimately a little lazy. The voiceover narration in Odd Thomas is totally unnecessary; the details that are revealed by way of voiceover could have been communicated to the audience by some other expository method. The entire film is plagued with instances of unnecessary voiceover narration and it cheapens the film.

I had no preconceived notions about what to expect or what the film should be like as I have not read the book on which it is based. I have heard all kinds of praise for the book but the magic doesn’t seem to have translated to the screen. I was really frustrated at seeing writer/director Stephen Sommers take what is supposed to be good source material and turn it in to a bad film. There are crappy movies being made in record number, so it’s disappointing to see someone taking a good premise and making a mess of it.  

The film’s dialogue is reminiscent of the type of interactions one is accustomed to hearing in teen dramas on The CW. Odd Thomas tries to be witty and hip but it falls flat and the film does more to annoy than amuse. The banter between Odd and his girlfriend Stormy is particularly irritating. It sounds too rehearsed and totally unnatural. I kept wondering why the characters were being so cheeky? I definitely don’t know anyone that only speaks in witty banter with a hint of condescension in his or her tone and if I did, I’d be tempted to backhand them.

The attempts at humor aren’t funny. In addition to the seemingly unrealistic interactions between Odd and his girlfriend, there is also some really obnoxious dialogue in the film – “I’m a woman. We all have issues. That’s what makes us interesting and keeps you men interested." That line was recited in a completely non-ironic fashion. A female character saying that strikes me as a bit like laughing in the face of decades of feminism.

There is A LOT of CGI in the film. It’s fairly good, as far as CG goes – and for a reported budget of $27 million, it should be. But it would have been nice to see the director rely on the use of practical effects at some point, rather than almost exclusively using CG.

It’s hard not to like Anton Yelchin and he is even likable in parts of Odd Thomas. Unfortunately, the likability of an actor only goes so far. Despite the fact that I usually find Yelchin to be an enjoyable person, the movie is still pretty unbearable. The rest of the cast left a lot to be desired in their performances.  

The Stormy character (Addison Timlin of the upcoming The Town that Dreaded Sundown) is really obnoxious. All of the effort that writer/director Stephen Sommers put in to trying to get viewers to like her character is in vain. Timlin seems uncomfortable in the role and provides the impression that she was miscast. Willem Defoe is okay as Chief Porter. It seemed like he might be phoning it in a bit but he isn’t, by any means, bad. This film just doesn’t really represent the actor’s best work.  

There is very little insight in to the mind of the film’s villains and what we do learn is tacked on at the end, much like an afterthought. Odd Thomas is out now on VOD and DVD.