The Odd Life of Timothy Green

by Alex Stroup, staff writer
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The Odd Life of Timothy Green is an odd duck. Pollyanna as magical realism, except it's magic that doesn't really achieve or reveal anything the audience can believe in.

Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton) have tried everything they can to have a baby, until finally, the doctor tells them that it is time to give up and move on. An aside: If you aren't able to watch without asking how a guide in a small town pencil museum and low-level manager at a pencil museum are able to afford tens of thousands of dollars in fertility treatments, this may be the first sign that it will be hard to get with the groove.

Anyway, they drown their sorrows in wine, and start writing out their wishes for what their child might have been. They then bury these wishes in the garden—the spot from which, later that night, sprouts a 12-year-old boy who calls himself Timothy (CJ Adams), and who calls them Mom and Dad.

It is a staple of movies in general, but magical realism specifically, that people are never nearly as freaked out by the impossible as you'd expect. So within minutes Cindy and Jim have accepted that apparently Timothy is meant for them, and soon introduce him to the family as a rapid adoption of some sort, and have him enrolled in school. The only acknowledgement of the oddity being that they make him always wear knee-high socks to hide the fact that he has leaves growing out of his calves.

Things progress to the somewhat predictable conclusion, only made interesting because it allows the movie to offer up a wildly implausible framing device where Cindy and Jim are narrating the movie to someone who should probably be put in jail for believing them.

Pollyanna really is an apt comparison, because Timothy immediately goes around supposedly making people's lives better with his kind-hearted naivety. But where Pollyanna taught Mrs. Snow and Mr. Pendergast how to enjoy life again and experience real change, Timothy seems to just make people a little bit better. Dianne Wiest is a witchy town-matriarch who, because of Timothy, has a moment of self-reflection before being mean some more. The already-happy man is made a little bit happier than before. The strange girl comfortable in her strangeness gets to be strange with Timothy.

There simply isn't much in the way of emotional payoff.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green is not a terrible movie; it just falls flat. There are several scenes played with a certain surreal acceptance, but it never quite held. Peter Hedges wrote a screenplay (along with Ahmet Zappa) that would have been better directed by Wes Anderson than Peter Hedges.

In the middle of summer's cacophany of comic book movies, there is something to be said for a quiet respite that the whole family can attend—but that's about all that can be said for this one.


The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a Walt Disney Pictures release.
Wide theatrical release Friday, August 17.
Directed by Peter Hedges
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, CJ Adams, Odeya Rush, Shohreh Aghdashloo
Running time: 100 minutes
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and brief language
Alex's Rating: 5 out of 10

Comments

  1. By Jimbo996

    Sounds like a "Benjamin Button" movie without the good acting.

    There's a misspelling in this sentence "The only acknowledgement of the oddity being that they make him always where knee-high socks to hide the fact that he has leaves growing out of his calves." where = wear???

  2. By Alex S.

    The typo has been fixed.

  3. By jms1969

    Saw this over the weekend, and it was better than I expected. While I can't argue the fact that parts were more than a little predictable, and that there were a couple plot holes that I thought could have been filled in a little better, it was a good film for the kids and was enough to hold my interest.

  4. By dban3

    Yikes!

    I usually take YouTube with a grain of salt but after this one....maybe there should be a thread for Movies to Avoid - 2 young critics after seeing the Disney's The Odd Life of Timothy Green (major spoiler alert) also avoid if you don't want to see kids crying uncontrollably.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aFV1...layer_embedded

  5. By LtPowers

    Quote Originally Posted by dban3 View Post
    I usually take YouTube with a grain of salt but after this one....maybe there should be a thread for Movies to Avoid - 2 young critics after seeing the Disney's The Odd Life of Timothy Green (major spoiler alert) also avoid if you don't want to see kids crying uncontrollably.

    Why the heck would anyone film that and post it on YouTube?

    (Also, I had a hunch after seeing the trailer that the spoiled event would come to pass; so predictable!)


    Powers &8^]

  6. By jms1969

    Quote Originally Posted by dban3 View Post
    Yikes!

    I usually take YouTube with a grain of salt but after this one....maybe there should be a thread for Movies to Avoid - 2 young critics after seeing the Disney's The Odd Life of Timothy Green (major spoiler alert) also avoid if you don't want to see kids crying uncontrollably.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aFV1...layer_embedded

    I saw the You Tube video too, and shame on the parents for being "fame-hounds" and posting a video like this that will likely haunt these kids for a long time. While I don't want want to judge anyone too strongly without any background, I'd say that the family appears to have issues that go far beyond this movie.

    (I'll do the rest of this post in general terms, and don't intend to give anything away, but in the interest of caution, I'll give a SPOILER ALERT)

    Disney movies since their beginning have usually included sad or scary events which allows the viewer to empathize with the characters and share in their joy when they overcome them. From the famous scene of Snow White "dying" with the dwarves removing their hats all around her, to Bambi's monther and Mufasa in the Lion King, to moments of "terror" where it appears the villains are winning, most or all Disney movies have their moments that can scare impressionable young children and/or require parents to reassure their children if they fixate on them. Timothy Green has a lot in common with these movies, and if your child can handle the types of scenes I mentioned, they are unlikely to have an issue with this movie.

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