Sometimes movies defy all genre classification, combining different genre types and concepts to make one mish-mash of a film. This bold choice can work quite well, as it recently did for the offbeat John Dies at the End. Very much like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure meets a horror concept, that film was able to combine all different elements into one cohesive flick. However, a lot of the times this uncertainty in tone leads to a film being a hodgepodge of different tones and ideas that just does not come together.
Odd Thomas is the latest flick to try to balance a large amount of tones. From the start, this project intrigued me in a few ways. From the trailers, the film very much gave off a Dylan Dog-like vibe. While that sounds awful to some, there is much potential in the Dylan Dog concept if executed well. Then there was the fact Anton Yelchin was involved as the lead. Yelchin has always been a promising talent, and him being attached to the project certainly helped. Sadly, though, Odd Thomas just does not quite come together as well as it should.
Based on the fairly good novel by Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas follows Odd Thomas, an offbeat local who is possessed with the talent of seeing the evil spirits. This talent is put to the test when a potential massacre looms, with only Odd Thomas there to stop it.
As I mentioned, Anton Yelchin is a talented actor. He has proven in a short time that he has a great deal of charm and has the tools to be a leading man. Here, Yelchin gets the perfect role for him to display those talents, and really is in command as Odd Thomas. Yelchin is able to throw out his witticisms with a natural likability and charm, while making this character one who is very much grounded. There are also a few scenes where Yelchin is asked to stretch himself dramatically and is able to display that emotion well.
Also doing quite well here is Willem Dafoe as a friend to Thomas and the town’s police chief. Surprisingly, he is not in the movie that long, but when he is, Dafoe adds his unique personality to his kind of thankless role, which makes his character stand out from the rest of the supporting cast.
For an independent project, the production values for this film are quite impressive. Odd Thomas features some rather impressive action set pieces. Thanks largely to the steady hand of director Stephen Sommers, the action as a whole is enjoyable throughout, as they mix together some good looking CGI with great practical effects.
Perhaps the most memorable aspect of this film is the twist ending it has. In the final minutes of the film, a twist is revealed that changes the audience’s perspective on the third act entirely. Personally, I did not see the twist coming, and it added a nice poignant note to the ending of the flick. Considering most twist endings these day are largely trash, the ending here in Odd Thomas was a pleasant surprise.
Aside from Yelchin and Dafoe, the rest of the supporting cast is extremely mediocre. Addison Timlin, who has been good in other films, is extremely lackluster as Thomas’ love interest in the film. When sharing the screen with Yelchin, in comparison she looks very much disinterested and tired against Yelchin’s energetic performance. The rest of the supporting cast is essentially wasted. Patton Oswalt and 50 Cent are in the film for one scene, what was the point in that?!
Timlin’s performance is not just a lackluster performance, but actually hurts the core of the film. Essentially from the start, the emotional core is meant to be in the relationship between Odd Thomas and his girlfriend Stormy. The problem is, neither of them have very good chemistry with each other, making it hard to really care for their relationship throughout the film. Both are talented actors, but just do not mesh well together.
As far as pace goes, this film is really inconsistent. At around 91 minutes, it really should not be that hard to keep a constant pace throughout a short running time. Still, the movie goes through stretches in which it moves very fast, and then very slowly. For example, the first twenty minutes or so covered a lot of ground and set the tone and pace, followed by the next twenty minutes which were much slower and changed that tone. Getting consistent editing may be under-appreciated by some, but when it lacks consistency it ruins a film’s flow.
When it comes to being offbeat, Odd Thomas tries way too hard. Adapted from screen by Stephen Sommers, it’s apparent that Sommers makes an effort to make this film have a wit and zaniness to it. Instead, most of these witticisms fail to really land, and that offbeat energy the film is going for is instead an example of the film trying way too hard.
While Stephen Sommers is a very talented director when it comes to action sequences, he very much has issues doing the other jobs of a director. There is a reason why he has went from being attached to blockbuster material like The Mummy to now making independent releases. Most of the film’s faults are caused by poor direction, and it makes you wonder what this film could have been if the director was better.
Sommers especially falls flat in managing a consistent tone. There are comedic aspects, action aspects, horror aspects, and even mystery aspects. With all of these qualities, it takes a talented director to put it all together. Instead, Odd Thomas comes off as a hodgepodge of genres and ideas that just does not come together.
Odd Thomas is an earnest effort without a doubt, but thanks largely to incompetent direction and a mixed bag script, the film never lived up to its potential.
Do a Shot: to the fact that there is a fart joke in the film… JUST WHY?!
Take a Drink: for each one-liner in the film
Take a Drink: each time a devil-like creature is shown
Do a Shot: anytime a person is prepping food, which is surprisingly a lot