It may seem a little obvious to say that a film called Odd Thomas is an odd little film, but there it is. It's an odd, amusing, off-kilter, and amusingly-presented combination of horror, action, comedy and romance that comes from a very popular novel and hits the screen by way of an A-list popcorn movie director who clearly has a lot of affection for the source material. Although certainly not without its flaws, Stephen Sommers' Odd Thomas is actually sort of an adorable throwback to the sort of material Joe Dante used to tackle back in the 1980s.
Truncated (and brightened) from Dean Koontz's massively popular novel, Odd Thomas is about a kooky but lovable short-order cook who has all sorts of convenient supernatural powers. Mainly he can see the invisible specters who pop up only when something truly carnage-packed is about to happen, but "Odd" can also read minds (sorta), and is pretty much a junior league superhero when it comes to physical altercations. All in all, he's a fun guy to build a movie around, and it doesn't hurt that Odd Thomas is played by the effortlessly affable Anton Yelchin, whom the genre geeks will remember from Star Trek and Fright Night.
While the film is admirably scattershot in some respects, it also suffers from simple narrative misdirection at several points. Sommers (director of The Mummy and the always awesome Deep Rising) is clearly going for a fast-paced comic book tone here, but that doesn't mean it's okay to throw a bunch of harried and late-arriving exposition at the screen. The 95-minute feature shows some plainly confused editing and a handful of plot holes as it plows through its tale of goofy clairvoyants, murderous maniacs, and ominous ghostly apparitions -- but beyond those issues, there's a lot to like here.
Although obviously working with a much smaller budget than he's used to, Sommers does all he can to plaster Odd Thomas with color, action, and character. Mr. Yelchin, for example, knows precisely the sort of movie he's in (that is, one that doesn't take itself all that seriously) and his approach to the material seems to have rubbed off on his co-stars.
Fans of TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Gilmore Girls will no doubt appreciate the adorably quippy dialogue between Odd and his devoted girlfriend Stormy (Addison Timlin); movie geeks will appreciate the slight but fun contributions from Willem Dafoe, Patton Oswalt, and Arnold Vosloo, and (most likely of all) pre-teen movie geeks will find a frantic little genre concoction that their parents might actually approve of.
Clearly the victim of some post-production chicanery, Odd Thomas is not likely to be the biggest hit of Stephen Sommers' career, but despite its tonal schizophrenia and a few misshapen plot contortions, the flick works surprisingly well. It's a sweet, silly, diverting, and sure, pretty mindless matinee movie... precisely the sort of flawed-yet-funky movie that most movie fans will approach with caution before actually having some fun.