Odd Thomas

"In Odd We Trust"

Hello all, welcome to a new bright definitely not super rainy spring week at The Tagline. Today I'm going to be talking about a film I'd nearly given up the hope of ever seeing, ever, for a variety of reasons. First it was caught up in a bizarre legal battle, and then shelved for years. Then last month, it received an extremely limited theatrical release, bringing it exactly nowhere near me (like I would have been going into a different state to see it). Finally after all that it was released this month on DVD, allowing me to at last see Odd Thomas, the movie adaptation of the Dean Koontz novel of the same name, the first book in a series about a character named... Odd Thomas. Odd Thomas is odd because he can see the dead, and is drawn to solve murders of those who died unnaturally, and bring their killers to justice. He lives in the small town of Pico Mundo, which is a desert sort of nowhere. He has the sheriff there backing him up (Willem Dafoe not playing some kind of heinous villain is just weird to me) and by day works as a short order cook at a local diner. He is dating the weird but really hot and awfully named Bronwen "Stormy" Llewellyn, because Dean Koontz considers his job incomplete unless everyone has a completely idiotic name. In addition to all this, Odd sees one other thing, a race of horrifying shadow monsters he calls bodachs, that seem to lurk wherever a bloody disaster is about to happen, and apparently exult in such disasters. Odd intimates to us that if the bodachs caught on that he could see them, they would probably kill him, which is a nice thought isn't it?

The vocation of all true heroes.
So that's Odd and his little world, what about the movie? As I mentioned before, the film is an adaptation of the first book in the series, following Odd as he attempts to prevent some huge disaster from killing everyone in Pico Mundo (well not everyone but hundreds and hundreds of people, so an old fashioned bloodbath). The problem with this is that Odd only ever gets bits and pieces of the picture at a time, and so he can't be sure exactly how events will shake out. All he can really do is follow around people being trailed by gangs of Bodachs and try to get the drop on them before something terrible happens. He meets with... mixed results on this front. In the end Odd is just a short order cook who's decent at taking a beating, so we really shouldn't expect too much from him. That being said, he has friends who help, despite his definite weirdness (like the sheriff and his lady and a few others) and that makes him an interesting character. I think often the whole "I see the dead/future/apocalypse/whatever" character is cast as a sort of unlikable loner (I'm looking at you Nicholas Cage in Next)who because of his power feels like he has to do everything alone. Odd feels like he needs to do something, but he isn't afraid to call for help, even if ultimately it will fall to him to save the day.

She just realized that he was Charlie Bartlett.
 In the movie adaptation Odd is portrayed by Anton Yelchin (our very own Charlie Bartlet) who I think was well cast in this role and does a bang up job (in general I find him to be a fairly talented fellow). With Odd you want a character who isn't necessarily tough per se, but someone who's scrappy and determined, and Anton Yelchin really delivered on that. I felt like the script really captured Odd as a character (and did a good job with everyone else too honestly, but in particular Odd because he is obviously most central to the story). In general the movie did a really rock solid job of adapting the book, hitting all the right notes and not omitting any key details. I was really pleased with the way this movie was paced, considering that is often a sticking point for adaptations of books. I'll grant that Odd Thomas is a shorter novel than some, but its still nice to see a book movie that fits in the major plot in a reasonable run time (just about an hour and a half). For a movie shot on a modest budget the effects look pretty good (and at the very least are effective in conveying the right impression, particularly in regards to the bodachs being creepy as hell)

Places I won't put my hand #1.
The take home is that as a fan of the book I was engrossed in the movie, and found the ending as gut wrenching as when I read the book. If you have not read the book, I still recommend the movie, because it is coherent on its own (another frequent problem with movies based on books). It's short, it's exciting, and it is filled with actors delivering convincing performances as characters with really stupid names in a Dean Koontz story. My only real regret was that they had to cut out the ghost of Elvis following Odd around (no I am most certainly not kidding) I thought it was nice that they had the cardboard standee of Elvis in Odd's apartment though, as a nod to the book. The little things that count (and I could see where adding in a ghostly Elvis for most of the movie might've strained a 27 million budget in a movie already full of special effect monsters). Critics didn't like it, but I'm not sure they really wanted to like it to begin with. People complained about it having a jumbled tone, but I don't really think that is the case. Being a movie about a guy who sees the dead, there is sort of a circumspect attitude about death juxtaposed with the still very real concern of keeping people from being dead way ahead of schedule. Anyway if you get the chance to see this on DVD, I recommend it!

That's all for today! Join me again on Thursday when I talk about movies, and watch movies, and there are movies (so it will be like any other Thursday).

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