Movie review: The Odd Life of Timothy Green
by Max Nicholson
From Oscar-nominated writer-director Peter Hedges (Dan in Real Life, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?), The Odd Life of Timothy Green tells an inspiring small-town fairytale that deals with not only the hardships of parenting, but the rewards that come from them. Walking a fine line between genuinely heartfelt and sickeningly sweet, you can probably tell just from the movie trailers whether or not Timothy Green is a film for you; but if wholesome family entertainment strikes your fancy, then read on.
The story centres on Jim and Cindy Green (Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner) a childless couple who decide to bury a box in their backyard garden filled with all their wishes for a son or daughter. That night, they find a young boy Timothy (CJ Adams), who shows up covered in mud with a peculiar bunch of leaves growing out of his legs. Jim and Cindy soon discover that this is the child they’ve been waiting for, and they quickly take on the roles of parents, introducing Timothy to their whimsical suburb of Stanleyville and learning from the boy’s own life experiences.
Admittedly, Timothy Green is a little hokey and sugar-coated, as are most Disney yarns featuring elements of undisclosed magic. But if you can set aside your bias toward gritty character drama and real-world conflicts, it’s actually quite enjoyable. At times, the film tests your toleration of nonsense, but it never fully takes you out of the story it’s trying to tell – and to its credit, it does incorporate an economical arc that, in its own way, grounds the otherwise carefree narrative.
While the film includes a wide array of secondary cast members – Ron Livingston, David Morse and Common, to name a few – the real standout performances come from Timothy Green’s three principal leads. Garner and Edgerton really share a good on-screen chemistry as a happy couple. They both work really well together, encompassing all the idealistic traits of a loving set of parents. Likewise, the youthful Adams turns out an eyebrow-raising performance as Timothy; he nails every close-up he’s given and delivers his lines with an unexpected sense of wisdom. Above all else, it’s the characters that really shine here, in spite of the movie’s easygoing and predictable plot.
Again, this film is not for everybody – and it definitely skews toward a younger audience – but at the very least, it tells an intriguing and original story, one thankfully not derived from a previous film or children’s book. The Odd Life of Timothy Green certainly doesn’t stand among your average summer fare, but as far as family films go, this one is definitely worth a look.