Director: Peter Hedges
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Joe Edgerton, CJ Adams, Dianne Wiest, David Morse, Ron Livingston, Odaya Rush
Written by: Peter Hedges and (story) Ahmet Zappa
Running Time: 105 mins
Release date: 5th April 2013
As the title suggests, The Odd Life Of Timothy Green is, well, odd. A fantasy tale from Disney that is so sickly sweet, they might need to give buckets with every ticket sold. Surprisingly, you might think that was just enough to stay clear. The trouble with the film, and all it’s strangeness and contrivances, there are certain elements that draw you in. And it just doesn’t seem right, if you know what i’m getting at.
Cindy and Jim Green are a young couple who discover they cannot have children. Devastated by the news, Jim suggests they write down all their thoughts about what their dream child should be like. After a glass of wine, the pair come up with a handful of ideas, which they put in a box and bury in their garden. That night, during a freak storm, they discover a young boy has appeared, covered in mud and with leaves sprouting from his legs, called Timothy. He, in turn, called Cindy and Jim, Mum and Dad and so they become an instant family, with Timothy carrying the attributes that they wished for while still not fully understanding the world around him. How long is Timothy going to be with them and as he touches all who meet him with his honest approach to life, will the small town they live in be the same again?
Timothy Green is a very old fashioned film in the way it depicts family life and particularly, parenting. Most modern parents don’t seem to have the same wholesome values as Cindy and Jim, which isn’t too much of a bad thing but in a time where children are raised between families that work every hour of the day and barely spend time with their kids, it’s a sugar coated world that the Greens live in. It’s not a bad thing, just that it’s one of the unrealistic ideas that are thrown up in this film.
While the town is in financial trouble, with its main industry being the production of pencils, it never seems to bother Jim Green that his life could change with the factory closing. It’s not that important. It’s also doesn’t seem too much trouble when Cindy loses her job, they have a boy that they don’t fully understand came from the earth, living with them and that’s all that matters. If this was a more realistic examination of family life, Jim would be at his wits end, Cindy would have been shouted down for losing her job, the pair would be worrying about money and survival and they certainly wouldn’t be thinking about having kids when they could be bankrupt by the next day. Plus, surely if a kid appears to you in the middle of the night, you wouldn’t just keep him, would you?
This is the problem with the film. With all its good intentions it leaves with far too many moral questions. I know it’s suppose to be a fantasy but if that is the case, why put in about failing businesses or families with fathers who didn’t care about their sons, like Jim’s father didn’t. These are for more realistic movies, not flights of fantasy like this.
On the plus side, Jennifer Garner and Joe Edgerton are a delight. The chemistry between the two is there for all to see and the opening ten minutes are utterly heartbreaking because of their performances. There are times, too, when you do find yourself swept along by the story. The football finale, for example, will have you rooting for Timothy, who previously had been left on the sidelines. Even the supporting cast, Dianne Wiest, David Morse and Ron Livingstone, in a role as far removed from his part in Office Space as you can imagine, are fine. CJ Adams as Timothy is a problem, though. Yes, he’s suppose to be all wide-eyed and innocent and sweet but most of the time I wanted to slap his face, he is that sickly. He also has this vacant look on his face, which i guess is because he is learning about life but I was never quite sure if that was his acting style as well.
Maybe I’m being too harsh on this. As a piece of escapism, it’s nice enough. I just feel that if you are going to deliver a fantasy that will tug at the heart strings, make sure it doesn’t cross the boundaries of real life. Make it an out-and-out fantasy. Let film makers like Ken Loach deal with the harshness of reality and let Disney just do the sweetness.