When I first heard about Disney’s The Odd Life of Timothy Green, I was intrigued by its depressing, yet charming premise. Although Timothy Green is being billed as a family film, it actually has hidden themes that make it a slightly more adult oriented fare.
Timothy Green has the potential to tell a really great tale, but misses several sprung up opportunities that were mowed down in favor of a few awkwardly cute moments. Fortunately, those awkwardly adorable moments also make Timothy Green endearing.
Did The Odd Life of Timothy Green blossom despite a few faults? Read on and find out!
The Odd Life of Timothy Green
Director: Peter Hedges
Release Date: August 15th
The Odd Life of Timothy Green centers around a married couple Cindy (Jennifer Garner) and Jim Green (Joel Edgerton) who are unable to conceive a child. After hearing that unfortunate news, Cindy and Jim write dreams of what their child would be like and plant a box full of those written dreams in their backyard. After a mysterious rainstorm, Timothy Green (CJ Adams) is born. A boy with leaves in his legs. Trying their best to raise Timothy as their own son, Cindy and Jim (as well as their small town community) soon find out that Timothy may be more than he appears as they learn a little more about themselves.
The cast of Timothy Green is well put together. Garner and Edgerton both convey their conception struggles adamantly enough which make the opening sequences of the film have some of the best character development of the entire thing. Their seemingly authentic character arc is one of the true saving graces of the film. Garner and Edgerton are believable as they go from distraught individuals, to bumbling but loving parents, to distraught individuals once again and their actions never feel forced. While writing thoughts of their “dream kid” may seem awkward in practice, it works for them. Garner and Edgerton make their loss coping mechanism honest and heartfelt. CJ Adams is also great as Timothy Green as he conveys the proper amounts of self-awareness and naivety. He is just so darn cute.
The three of them make a good family. Their slight awkwardness is loving and fun to watch (especially in one musical moment that I don’t want to spoil here).
Unfortunately as I mentioned above, while the central family may be appealing, Timothy Green is bogged down with some unfortunate choices. Everything is just too predictable (save for one scene) and it really lessens the effect of some poignant moments. When something sad happens, you know it’s going to happen. Timothy Green’s story is told through Cindy and Jim as they are applying for adoption, and because of that framing device (which works well enough for the mythic qualities Timothy’s story lends itself to), the ending is given away from the start.
Timothy Green also has the tendency to drag on past its cuteness. Clocking in at 100 minutes, the film would have been saved through some tighter editing and shaving off ten or so minutes. There are one too many moments where the film will go silent, play its score, and focus on an environment or one of Timothy’s actions. Since the film’s score is actually quite pleasant these moments aren’t entirely bad, but ultimately serve little purpose.
Now for the missed opportunities I’ve been mentioning. Timothy Green has way too many caricatures and not enough characters. What I mean is that several characters are defined by one trait that Timothy has to fix (The mean boss, the disapproving dad, the bragging sister, the awkward silent girl, the aggressive coach, etc). The only good that comes from any of them is how Cindy and Jim react to these caricatures as each one picks on their son. Unfortunately, the interactions never amount to more than just teases for better character development from Cindy and Jim.
In the end, The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a bud that never bloomed properly. Given enough attention, it could have been a great view of coping with child loss. Instead we have a picture that’s slightly family friendly (the children in the theater I saw it at were not amused), a darn cute little boy whose parents are barely learning the ropes of childcare, and a moral lesson about treating others that comes out of nowhere.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green is certainly as odd as the title suggests, but just don’t expect your kids to enjoy it.