The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Interestingly, The Odd Life of Timothy Green seems to be marketed to families, perhaps even with young kids. There is much to be bored about, for kids, in this film, but for parents and any adult who likes sweet quirkiness, this movie might be your cup of tea.

Here’s a preview:

The deets:

Released August 15, 2012

Written by Peter Hedges and Ahmet Zappa

Directed by Peter Hedges

Starring Jennifer Garner, Odeya Rush, Shohreh Agdashloo, Dianne Wiest, Joel Edgerton, CJ Adams, Ron Livingston, and Common

Rated: PG

*     *     *     *     *

Story

The Odd Life of Timothy Green is not what you might expect. The basic story is what you see in the previews: A couple (Edgerton and Garner) have done all they can medically to have a kid. They crave the experience of being parents. The husband, Jim (Edgerton), suggests that he and Cindy (Garner) write down all the things that their kid would be like. Then they bury the notes in a box and a magical kid arrives. The boy is called Timothy (Adams) and he came from the ground. He’s a plant of some kind, with leaves on his legs.

The story follows along as Timothy’s quirkiness and unique personality cause consternation followed by, you guessed it, tension, and then followed by, you guessed it again, tender feelings and people redeemed.

There’s not much here for young kids to get into. Timothy is decidedly not the protagonist; the married couple is. No kid would behave like Timothy, because no kid is a plant-child with a limited amount of time to be around. Any message to kids that it’s okay to be different is pretty much lost.

But the sensitivity to the trials of parenting, the pain of loss and disappointment, the fear of the unknown, the sense that we are living lives according to others’ perceptions, and familial relationships that is displayed in this movie– all essentially from the perspective of adults– makes this a tender, sometimes too sweet, experience for adults, particularly parents.

You know where this story is going from the start. There’s a misunderstood young girl, a curmudgeon with a heart of gold, a greedy corporate schlub, and moments made awkward by a kid with no care for societal convention.

Critique

This film doesn’t care about over-the-top sentiment. It doesn’t take the easy way out, either, depicting real loss and heartfelt relationship-based frustration. The script pulls out all the sweet, magical stops, and the direction allows some very lovely scenes of Timothy and those around him being filled with life to develop, showing a deft hand for light and humanity.

It helps that Garner and Edgerton are very good together, their easy comfort and gentle chemistry helping the movie draw you in. Skeptics, cynics, puppy killers– this isn’t your movie. Much like August Rush, this movie exists to elicit feelings in you more than to tell a story. Happily, it does tell a story, slim though it may be, and the characters and acting carry the sparse and wanting script along just fine.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a fine film, a fairly unique film in its pure-hearted appreciation of this kid (incidentally, the actor CJ Adams does a top-notch job) and the changes that this kid’s urgent quirkiness engenders in the lives of those around him. But don’t expect your kids to enjoy the movie, much less understand why you’re weeping at the very end.

This movie is somewhat recommended. It’s worth a matinee.

Content warnings: Very little harsh language

Writing: 3.5          Acting: 4.5          Overall: 4

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About jared

Jared Garrett works as a writer, the manager of a program development department in the corporate world, and an instructional designer. He is a family man with an adorable, fun, and way-too-smart wife, six silly kids, a new house with an overgrown back yard, seven fish, and a bunch of chickens. He has written fiction, user manuals, SEO copy, radio scripts and textbooks and has won first place in the Mayhew writing contest at BYU and received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. He lives at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains and is currently seeking representation for his myriad completed novels.
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