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dir-scr Stephen Sommers
prd Stephen Sommers, John Baldecchi, Howard Kaplan
with Anton Yelchin, Addison Timlin, Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nico Tortorella, Kyle McKeever, Laurel Harris, Melissa Ordway, Patton Oswalt, Shuler Hensley, Arnold Vosloo, Leonor Varela
release US 28.Feb.14
Something wicked this way comes: Timlin and Yelchin
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
An amusingly creepy tone makes this offbeat comedy surprisingly involving as it spirals through a rather absurd comedy-thriller storyline. But it's the depth of the characters that hold our interest, offering some strong emotional kicks along the way. And the spirited script keeps the actors on their toes.
In the desert town of Pico Mundo, Odd (Yelchin) lives up to his name. A short-order cook at the local diner, he can see dead people and helps them solve their murders. But Odd knows something bigger and more horrific is coming, and he's having trouble piecing together the clues with the help of his girlfriend Stormy (Timlin), their prescient friend Viola (Mbatha-Raw) and the town's police chief (Dafoe), the only residents who understand his strange gift. Surrounded by demonic critters, a strange man they dub Fungus Bob (Hensley) seems to be the key.
The film is fast-paced and often very funny, as the script is packed with snappy asides, narrative sideroads and pithy observations. It also has an incessant voiceover narration from Odd that explains pretty much everything, such as why he doesn't have a car (he has simplified his life as much as he can). But this means that he explains almost everything, rather than letting us discover it ourselves. For example, we know that he believes he's destined to be with Stormy, but we never quite feel it.
Cleverly, Sommers draws us into Odd's journey by making him thoroughly likeable. And Yelchin plays him with a terrific sense of physical energy, creating superb chemistry with everyone around him. With witty camerawork and editing, plus some subtly eye-catching effects, the story unfurls like a comical Donnie Darko, reminding us to brace ourselves for something truly momentous. And indeed, the film takes turns that are very violent and grim, as well as startlingly moving.
This is a sharply well-assembled film, with a strong script that gives the engaging cast plenty of detail to work with, including moments that are riotously silly and darkly emotional. On the other hand, there isn't much subtext - nothing to think about along the way and little to linger after the credits roll. But it's entertaining while it lasts, building to an oversized finale that's tense and surprisingly punchy.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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