DIANNE WIEST DAVID MORSE ROSEMARIE DEWITT COMMON RON LIVINGSTON
The ODD LIFE of TIMOTHY GREEN
Disney’s latest live action film The Odd Life of Timothy Green is about adoption
and all its complications. With a little magic in the telling this family film winds
up aiming more at parents hearts than entertaining children. ‘Timothy Green’ is painted
in a colorful and friendly world where there is no danger or evil, just the sadness
of two parents unable to have a child. This film also strikes me as the type of movie
a teenager would watch with a grandparent as evidenced by the enthusiastic reactions
in the over 60 crowd. Unlike most of the Disney live action stories, even with Timothy
the central character the film’s focus is on the behavior and comedy of the two parents
played by Jennifer Garner (13 Going on 30, Alias) and Joel Edgerton (Warrior, Animal
Desperate to start a family Jim (Edgerton) and Cindy (Garner) Green have just been
told children are not possible. After years of trying and exhausting every medical
option they decide to imagine what their child would be like, so they write their
ideas on paper and plant them in the garden. In the middle of the night they are
awoken by a dirty 10 year old boy whose name is Timothy (Adams). At first they don’t
believe what is happening but when they spot leaves growing on the boy’s legs that
cannot be removed, they understand the miracle in front of them. In an attempt to
correct their parents mistakes Jim and Cindy try their best to give Timothy the best
childhood possible, however the boy who is everything they wished for has a secret
he can’t tell them.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green would fit nicely alongside the much forgotten Tuck
Everlasting which also used one small but of magic to tell a simple but emotional
story. This family film is betting on the emotional punch to the parental face at
the end and will likely get it with a lack of live action family films as whole hearted
as this. I started to think about films with adoption themes and while ‘Timothy Green’
is a more standard advocate type film that lives within the fantasy world more agreeable
and meaningful films about adoption include Mother & Child and December Boys. This
film is all about playing it safe and making the kids go “yeah!” when bully’s get
what they deserve and parents thankful they are not in the complicated shoes of Jim
“You cannot let anyone see your leaves,” Cindy tells Timothy as he is about to head
to school. However it’s the leaves that lend the only real suspense and mystery to
audiences who need more than just positive role model scenario’s and scene after
scene that looks like a postcard from a Southern Living Magazine (no violence in
this town). If there is a breath of fresh air in the film it’s Oscar winning actress
Dianne Wiest (I Am Sam, The Horse Whisperer) who worked with director Peter Hodges
previously on Dan in Real Life. Wiest normally portrays a soft spoken nurturing character
here against type as a hairy chinned, snippy hard shell. Garner and Edgerton are
enjoyable as the funny parents but this film has little to offer in the way of original
or complex ideas.
Final Thought – A cute film for those who like stories set in a world with no conflict,
complexities, violence or artistic merit.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
I cannot say I loved this picture as much as I did Peter Hedges’ Pieces of April
and About a Boy; this one is a little too fanciful for my taste. On the other hand,
it does make some good points about parenting, acceptance of differences in others,
looking on the bright side of things, and creatively solving problems. The story
is engaging, and keeps the viewer wondering how everything is going to turn out.
It captured the interest of kids in the audience at the screening I attended; the
young girl sitting next to me was absorbed in it the whole time.
The story reminds me of Moonrise Kingdom in its highlighting a touching friendship
between two somewhat quirky children about twelve years old; the wisdom and self-confidence
of the boys in the two films, and their being misunderstood initially, but redeeming
themselves in the end; and the friendship taking place primarily outdoors. Timothy
Green is a bit self-conscious at times—a little too studied—which detracts from the
naturalness that I think the filmmakers were attempting to achieve, and which is
part of the charm of Moonrise Kingdom.
Both the child actors (CJ Adams as Timothy and Odeya Rush as Jonie) are extremely
good and well cast, and they are backed up by Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton as
overly invested parents and others such as Rosemarie DeWitt, who plays Jennifer Garner’s
sister. The resemblance of the two actresses to one another in this film is uncanny.
David Morse and Common have brief but very effective cameo roles.
The primary message of The Odd Life of Timothy Green seems to be to parents who are
overly protective of their children and overly invested in having them fulfill the
parents’ hopes and dreams, rather than trusting them to have good judgment in pursuing
their goals. The strength of the film is in its actors and its messages, whereas
the script falls short in its predictability in some situations and its lacking flair
in presenting a mystical event, although I did appreciate the message at the end,
which is that our children are not given to us as possessions and are in our care