Sunday, May 18, 2014

Streaming: Stephen Sommers' very odd ODD THOMAS proves funny, scary and finally moving

TrustMovies prefers Stephen Sommers in anything but his "blockbuster" mode (The Mummy, G.I. Joe, Van Helsing), so the arrival of his adaptation of Dean Koontz's novel, ODD THOMAS, is pretty much a pleasure to see. When Sommers, shown below, works on a smaller scale (The Adventures of Huck Finn, Deep Rising and now this one), even if the movie's full of special effects, it seems easier for the guy to manage character and event so that those effects don't cancel out the rest.

It must have been quite a job to distill the long novel (which I have not read) down to 100 minutes. That said, thanks to some beginning heavy-duty narration -- which is actually rather fun, as voiced by Anton Yelchin, on poster, above, and below, who plays the title character -- we're thrust into this bizarre narrative that combines very weird (but quite visually effective) wraiths/ghouls and a group of extremely nasty villains with one of those picture-book-perfect communities that movies love to show us. Certain filmmakers (like Joe Dante, David Lynch and now, evidently, Mr. Sommers) seem to enjoy taking these darling little communities -- with their model families, bustling malls and kindly cops -- and turning them inside out.

While Lynch is a master at this, and Dante awfully good at it, Sommers is more of a beginner. You can tell by the movie's tone. It keeps changing from dark to light, humorous to scary and never quite finds its sweet spot. The film is still lots of fun, particularly for those of us who love the fantasy genre and enjoy seeing new ideas tried out on it.

Sommers has rounded up a crack cast -- from Willem Dafoe (below, center) to Shuler Hensley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, (the current Belle), Nico Trotorella (The Following) and, as Odd's sweet girlfriend, Addison Timlin (above and below). Everyone's just fine, which helps carry us through some of those tonal variations, to end up with a few moments that are actually quite moving and surprising. (And might have indicated a sequel, had this film been more successful at the box-office.)

There was evidently some legal matters to settle re the release of the move, which only saw limited theaters despite what looks like a relatively big budget and Mr Koontz's well-known name. Whatever: You can watch it now on Netflix streaming and elsewhere, then weigh in with your own pros and cons. For those who appreciate this particular genre, I'd say it's quite worth your time.

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