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Casting the Inevitable ‘Adventures in Odyssey’ Live-Action Film

Casting the Inevitable ‘Adventures in Odyssey’ Live-Action Film

Disney has been on a roll recently, turning their cartoon classics in live-action films, from Cinderella to Pinocchio to the upcoming Little Mermaid.

We can only assume that Christian filmmakers will eventually catch onto this trend of recycling old materials and getting audiences to pay to watch it again. Sooner or later, there’s bound to be a live-action remake of Adventures in Odyssey.

For the uninitiated, Adventures in Odyssey centered around the many adventures of John Whitaker, a portly, aging inventor who owned and operated an ice cream parlor where kids would go when they needed a moral lesson tacked on to their daily lives. The ice cream parlor also had a time machine, which did not make it nearly as popular a tourist destination as you might think.

My parents bought me almost every episode on tape. I loved them. I measured long car rides in how many Odyssey episodes you could listen to on the way. And while many of the episodes slipped into the worst of Christian entertainment’s tendencies (one infamous episode ended up with a character getting attacked by a forest demon after playing too much Dungeons & Dragons) the writing staff had a knack for humor and characterization, and the voice actors were top-notch.

I assume the reason an announcement for a live-action remake hasn’t happened yet is that nobody’s sure who to cast, a problem we aim to rectify:

Tom Holland as Jimmy Barclay

Tom Holland has done a fantastic job taking on the role of Spider-Man. And a big reason for that is Holland’s innocent and honest face. What you see is what you get, and you know you can trust Holland.

Jimmy Barclay served as Odyssey’s stock boy character. Whenever someone needed to learn a valuable lesson about boy things, Jimmy was good for it.

Lerman’s face—so tender, so trusting—would serve him well.

Willa Holland as Donna Barclay

Jimmy’s older sister, Donna, likewise served as Odyssey’s stock girl character. She could frequently be a bit overbearing in a very oldest sibling way, and as an oldest sibling, I resent the stereotype (I, myself, have always been plagued by self-doubt and a lack of ambition and am therefore deeply distrustful of birth order personality test hacks.)

But Donna was an oldest sibling, and so as an oldest sibling we must cast her. Willa Holland (interestingly, no relation to Tom) has typically played the younger sibling (on Arrow and The O.C.) but she has the authoritative tone for a firstborn. It is time for her to spread her wings and portray the oldest sibling she was born to play.

Jeff Bridges as Tom Riley

As badly as I wanted to cast Sam Elliott here, I think Tom Riley needs a curveball. In Odyssey, Tom was sort of a folksy old farmer who said things like “boy, howdy” a lot. Bridges doesn’t necessarily seem like a “boy, howdy” kind of guy but maybe that’s exactly what this part needs. Bridges will put a little spice into Tom’s generally staid existence, making him a fresh, vital character ready to face the challenges of 2015.

Jaeden Martell as Rodney Rathbone

I know what you’re thinking and, yes, I did consider casting Joffrey from Game of Thrones here, Rodney Rathbone being the most despicable of Odyssey’s children. He and his gang of ne’erdowell’s tormented the good denizens of Odyssey in a variety of ways, ranging from the mundane (framing people for murder) to the truly wicked (suing Mr. Whitaker for having a Nativity scene in his front yard because something, something Separation of Church and State.)

That’s why I think this portrayal needs a surer, more nuanced hand than Joffrey. Martell proved he has the ability to be cunning in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out. Let’s give him the chance to prove himself in Odyssey.

Paul Giamatti as Bernard Walton

Bernard Walton—depicted as a curmudgeonly but generally good-natured window washer—always served as Odyssey’s de facto kindly grouch and could be counted on to provide a good moral lesson when Mr. Whitaker was otherwise disposed. Paul Giamatti could bring to Bernard the sort of sadness that I think must fuel any life long window washer.

Jurnee Smollett as Connie Kendall

“Tyler,” you say. “Are you just casting Jurnee Smollet as one of Odyssey’s primary characters because you love Friday Night Lights and know, without a doubt, that it is the greatest TV show of all time?”

No, I am casting Jurnee Smollet because her grit and drive make her ideal for portraying Connie’s lifelong dedication to her job at Whit’s End. Get it together, and if you’re going to accuse me of playing favorites, get your facts right first.

Andrew Garfield as Eugene Meltsner

Oh, what, you were expecting Jesse Eisenberg? Yeah, you and everyone else, which is why Andrew Garfield is such a slam dunk. Yes, I’m aware he’s the second Spider-Man on this list, but in fairness, he was the second best thing about his franchise’s attempt, and also, he can play a very smart person, which is what Eugene was.

Also, Eugene was—near as I can remember—Odyssey’s only non-Christian resident, so Garfield would have to play a spiritual outsider, which I think he could manage.

Gina Rodriguez as Katrina Shanks

Katrina Shanks was eventually introduced as an intellectual match/love interest for Eugene, and though I looked far and wide, only Gina Rodriguez could match Garfield for sheer portrayal of vast intellect. Plus, she brings in big star energy and this movie will need all the star power it can get if it’s going to break even at the international box office.

Morgan Freeman as John Whitaker

Morgan Freeman and Morgan Freeman alone could convey Mr. Whitaker’s deific blend of kindly wisdom, tough love and spritely whimsy.

He holds the town together by virtue of his spiritual know-how, and if it was my town in question, I’d definitely want Morgan Freeman. If you would want someone else, that’s on you.

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