Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
Odd Thomas (Netflix) should already be on your radar if you have even a passing interest in charming, light-hearted supernatural thrillers. It stars Anton “New Chekhov” Yelchin and was directed by betimes blockbuster director Stephen Sommers so it’s not some obscure indie. It is, however, worth noting Sommers seems to have had his credit card taken away after writing and directing the atrocity that was G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. So that’s something.
Sommers arguably hit his peak with The Mummy. With each successive picture, he slid further and further away from a winning formula. The Mummy movies got old after the first one. Van Helsing was loud and colorful, but it had an unnecessarily tortured plot and traded far too heavily in cliches. (And bad accents.) And then there was Rise of Cobra. Never forget, people. Never forget.
Sommers’ biggest strength is infusing humor and likable characters into thrilling adventure yarns like The Mummy. Odd Thomas is therefore something of a return to form, albeit on a much more modest scale. It’s delightful.
Based on a Dean Koontz novel of the same name, the narrative is pretty tight, flowing dynamically from moment to moment without much in the way of filler. Yelchin is right at home as the quirky, bug-eyed title character, whose real first name, he tells us, is Odd. Fitting, since he sees, hangs out with and brings peace to the souls of the departed. Sure, we’ve heard this schtick many times before but so what?
Instead of pitting Odd against stereotypically skeptical authorities, in this movie our hero is given the benefit of the doubt by a reasonable, conscientious sheriff. (PS – Willam Defoe is amazing when he plays average, decent human beings. He creeps me out when he does the weird Von Trier stuff, or when he plays some grinning psycho like in Spider-Man. But remember that stoner sergeant in Platoon? Who wouldn’t want to be his friend? Tom Berenger is a DICK.)
Odd Thomas has been in development for 5+ years and went through a lot of production woes, including a lawsuit that held up filming temporarily. Watching the finished product, you can definitely sense the movie’s had a rough go of it. It looks professional enough and the performances and technical work are all fine, but it’s definitely not a studio film. In my book, that makes it more endearing.
The overall effect is very pleasing. Yelchin and Defoe are great, the action is fun (Yelchin can throw a decent punch, plus: GUNS) and the ghoulish bodach creatures look pretty slick. They totally remind me of those creepy ghost things from Dead Like Me, which probably got the idea from the Odd Thomas books to begin with. I also really liked Odd’s girlfriend Stormy, who is a fine little actor herself. (Seriously, she is tiny.)
Added Bonus: Patton Oswalt? The fuck are you doing in this movie for 30 seconds and never appearing again? I assume you had a bigger part but something got cut, right? Well, thanks for stopping by!