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'Odd Thomas' review: Case closed

Matt Pais, @mattpais

RedEye movie critic

12:00 AM CST, February 27, 2014

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*1/2 (out of four)

Throughout “Odd Thomas,” friends and colleagues call the titular character (Anton Yelchin) odd, strange, weird, crazy and so forth. I get it. Move along.

One of the many problems with this uninspired blend of “Final Destination,” “Minority Report” and “The Sixth Sense” is that Odd—that’s really his first name—isn’t odd enough. Yes, he uses his ability to see ominous, wispy skeleton thingies following people whose lives are in danger, apprehends baddies and sniffs out future crimes as an undercover detective. Otherwise he’s the sort of slightly nervous but likable dweeb Yelchin (“Star Trek”) often plays. When he’s not fighting crime, Odd works as a short-order cook and sustains a mild relationship with cute ice cream shop employee Stormy (Addison Timlin). His dismissive note about avoiding Vegas because of how much work he’d have to do there troublingly suggests he hasn’t fully considered the responsibility behind his powers.

I’m not advocating another somber superhero tale where the dude with the skills grumbles about his crummy social life. But writer-director Stephen Sommers (“The Mummy”), adapting Dean Koontz’s novel, emphasizes lame CGI while showing no interest in the story’s wrinkles. It’s cool that Chief Porter (Willem Dafoe) embraces Odd’s abilities and how they can help the community. So why, when Odd insists a disaster is imminent, does the cop act like he’s annoyed to be taken away from cuddle time with his wife? Sommers has no idea how to craft a mystery or mythology, with way too much sometimes-irrelevant backstory explained in voiceover and characters introduced conspicuously enough for any viewer to feel like a master detective. Though I did not expect a one-scene, pointless appearance by Patton Oswalt—surprise!

It goes without saying that a blend of supernatural fantasy (feebly attempting to launch a franchise) and an all-too-real threat of a shooting in a very public place doesn’t go down easy. The shallow, casual explanation of motive in “Odd Thomas” is patently offensive and a sharp dip for a film that generally spends its running time hovering around obnoxious disposability. “If I’m caught, I’ll either be arrested for murder or rolling what looks like the biggest joint ever,” Odd notes while wrapping up a body. And this is why his parents didn’t name him Funny Thomas.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

 

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