A short movie based on the hit TVO Kids series Odd Squad is landing in theatres for one day only this Saturday, July 16.
Like the TV show, Odd Squad: The Movie focuses on a group of kids who serve as agents in an organization that investigates odd problems—like a pizza-delivery woman with snails for feet, or a man who suddenly finds himself floating in the air—and then comes up with clever solutions. The first 40-episode season wrapped earlier this year, with several of its primary kid heroes moving on to start a new branch within the agency. The second season, which just debuted at the end of June, introduces a new batch of kids.
The film functions as a bridge between seasons. It sees the casts from both seasons working together to take on a rival group of peculiar problem sleuths (the Weird Team) led by Jack McBrayer (30 Rock), a cackling adult who failed his audition for the Odd Squad as a kid because of his penchant for taking dangerous short cuts.
I had a chance to watch the film prior to its release with my 11-year-old daughter, who—even though she skews toward the high side of the show's target audience—is obsessed with the quirky kid agents. We sat down for a chat afterward.
Odd Squad is one of those rare kid shows that can appeal to people of almost any age—even adults like me—because of its strange premise and off-beat humour. But what specific age do you think the people who make the show are going for? I'd say six to ten. They do some math in the show, and you don't really get math until grade one.
Do you think it's the same age range for the movie? Anything too complex or too scary for younger kids? Nah. It's basically the same. We see the same sort of CGI special effects in the movie as we do in the show. The scariest thing is probably a giant mouse that shows up at the beginning. And if you're scared of mice, what can you watch?
Do you think the movie has the same vibe as the show? Yes. They still have the same sense of humour and the same jokes. It's basically just like one of the TV shows, but longer. But not too much longer. It's not as long as a regular movie.
What do you think of the new characters? As good as the old ones? No! The original scientist kid, Oscar, he's the best. Oona, his replacement, is growing on me. She's my favourite new character—I just like scientist characters, I guess—but she's not as good as Oscar. No one can be. There are two other new characters, named Otis and Olympia, who are taking over for Otto and Olive. Obviously Ms. O could never be replaced. She's still there. I originally didn't like the idea of new characters replacing the old ones, but I've watched a few episodes of the second season now and they're kind of growing on me.
And I've noticed the old actors have really grown up, especially Otto. They're way taller than the new ones. Which is maybe why they had to be replaced. Or maybe the new kids are just really short.
I also noticed with casting that the filmmakers are still doing a really good job of representing both genders and different groups of people, which should help most kids find someone they can identify with. Do you think it's just a movie meant to make you laugh, or did you detect something more in its story, like a message or a moral? The moral is that you aren't supposed to take short cuts. The Odd Squad figures out what they know, then what they want to know, and then they solve their problem by figuring it out step by step, kind of like a word math problem. But the villain took a lot of short cuts, and he almost ended the world because of it. He didn't take the time to understand how this weird smiling creature called Dave who kept multiplying was eventually going to destroy the world.
Did you learn anything else while watching? Well, I didn't, because I know this already, but they were trying to show kids how if you add one number to itself it's like multiplying. It's whatever the original number is times two. If you keep doing that over and over again—keep multiplying the number you get by two over and over again—you get a really big number really quickly. They have lessons like that in the shows, too.
What was the funniest part of the movie for you? When Ms. O lost her job and just became like a regular kid. She lost all her power. And it was really hard for her to talk to the normal kids. At one point on a playground she says "Juice me!" (because she's addicted to juice) and expects to be given a juice, like she normally would at Odd Squad headquarters. But no one gives her anything.
I really liked the ragtime dance the two boy agents did in order to avoid the lasers. And I noticed that, generally speaking, the younger the agent, the weirder and funnier it became. Yeah. Other than Otto, my favourite agent is Orson. He drives an ice cream truck—and he's only nine months old!
So, would you recommend Odd Squad: The Movie to other kids? Yes! I wasn't so sure about it at the start, but then Otto and Olive came back and everyone who was in that scene cheered because they were so happy to see them. And I kind of cheered, too, in my mind, because I was very happy. And Olive was wearing a jean jacket. Which was awesome because I've never seen her in anything but her Odd Squad uniform.
Yeah. It's not exactly a Hollywood movie, but I think most kids who watch the show on TV will get a big kick out of seeing everything a bit bigger and a little slicker on the silver screen. Yeah. I didn't get to see it on the big screen, but it passes the torch between the two casts—that's what you said after we watched it, right?—really nicely.
To find a theatre playing the movie, click here.