New Release: The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Based on yesterday's "Lunchtime Poll", my answer helps explain why I saw this movie in theaters.  Jennifer Garner, I will pretty much go to the theater to see anything she's in.  I've really liked her since her TV show 'Alias' and will watch her do almost anything.  Then you add a sort of mystical element of a child growing from the garden, and give her Joel Edgerton (who was awesome in Warrior last year) and I was a shoe-in to see this.
Here's the background - Jim and Cindy Green would like more than anything to have a family.  Cindy didn't have a traditional one growing up, and Jim really hates his own dad.  However, they've been told it's not possible.  A drunk night of mourning ensues where they imagine the kind of kid they would have had and make a list of qualities he or she might have possessed.  Then, like burning old photos of a boyfriend to get over him, they bury this list in the garden.  Magic takes a hand, and a little boy named Timothy (the only boys name on Jim and Cindy's baby-name list) appears in their house in the middle of the night.  He's about 10 years old, normal, articulate, and the spitting image of Jim and Cindy, but he has real leaves growing out of his legs.  After he calls Jim and Cindy "mom and dad", they start to see how their "wish" might have come to life.  They explain it away as Timothy having "arrived" to stay with them.  They keep his leaves covered with socks.  Pretty soon we start to see some of Jim and Cindy's wishes for their child coming true (a sense of humor, the ability to 'rock'), and they get really excited that he is and always will be the child they were meant to have.  If you've ever see Big or 13 Going on 30 or The Santa Clause, you can guess what's going to happen next so I won't spoil the rest.
One of the techniques that is used to tell this story is flashback.  The movie starts with Jim and Cindy ominously telling their story to two people (one is Shohreh Aghdashloo whose voice I adore from The House of Sand and Fog) who are asking questions and making them defend their actions.  Their ability to stumble over one another and the parts of the stories they like telling is really cute, Garner and Edgerton have good chemistry.  We don't know the authority Aghdashloo and her partner have, but we know it's important to hear all of Timothy's story.  The way the community embraces Timothy has that same feeling of Lars and the Real Girl when they all embrace "Bianca" because they love Ryan Gosling.  They just go with it, without question.  It seems silly, but this is probably closer to real life than we think - how often do you ask people if their kids were born to them, grew in the garden or were delivered by aliens.  Mostly we just accept what's right in front of us.
My only problem with this movie, and it's a big one, is that it doesn't have enough content.  It's long enough, magical enough, with really good acting, but there's not enough oomph behind Timothy's magic.  Garner and Edgerton are good, well-developed characters - they're free spirits who work in a town whose economy is declining.  But that's not enough.  In Big, they at least have to try to find the Zoltar machine to reverse the aging, but here because we don't know how long or if Timothy is staying.  So there's no rush or fear or hope pushing the movie along.  There's nowhere that the characters are trying to reach.  Yes, they're trying to help Timothy fit in - he meets a girl, plays soccer, etc. But because of this, it's hard to figure out if there's a single message that the movie is trying to tell you.  It feels like the overall message is that parenting is hard and it's not about having the perfect family, but creating a happy one.   That doesn't mean you're not going to cry or get a big goofy grin during the final scene, but it's not as big or as happy as it might have been.


  1. (Minor correction: I think you mean "Warrior" not "The Warriors" with Joel Edgerton.)

    Anywho, I'll probably check this one out when it hits DVD.

  2. oh this is sweet love story with pretty some characters. lets spiral it into some video . blessings.


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