The Odd Life of Timothy Green

“The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is an odd film indeed.

It’s certainly a family movie, as it’s rife with wholesome values, life lessons, and morals. It’s also a very (very) simplistic story, so it wont go over children’s heads. But I wondered as I was watching it if children would be bored by it… or if this kind of “touching” movie was something they’d like. I wound up having trouble pegging what age range it would be good for.

For adults, this is a movie where you’re not supposed to think, you’re supposed to feel. The picture is less worried about telling you a story than it is about orchestrating an emotional response.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, that takes more than clichés and music and tropes like falling leaves and beams of sunlight.

Shortly after learning that they’re unable to conceive, Jim (Joel Edgerton) and Cindy (Jennifer Garner) Green spend an evening drinking a bottle of wine and writing down all the positive characteristics that their imaginary child would have had. On sheets of a pocket notebook, they write down and tear off one positive virtue and attribute after another. When finished, the couple sadly put all the slips of paper into a box and bury it in the garden, symbolizing their desire to move on with their lives.

That night however, a magic rain comes, and with it, a muddy boy. From the garden comes Timothy, a ten-year old (or so) boy who can walk and talk and is calling the Greens Mom and Dad. This miraculous event stuns the Greens, who… don’t ask one eighth of one half the questions that I would have prior to accepting him as their own and enrolling him in school. There, Timothy begins to experience difficulties due to his “oddness” for the first time.

Physically, Timothy has an abnormality that would betray his otherworldly nature. His lower legs have leaves sprouting out of them. Developmentally, Timothy doesn’t know how to swim, or kick a ball. He also chooses odd times to strike tree like postures and meditate as he soaks in the sun. Emotionally, Timothy is odd in still other ways. One of the characteristics his parents put down for him is “honest to a fault”, which manifests itself in Timothy’s personality. Though sweet and friendly, he holds a mirror up to people regardless of the awkward social consequences.

You don’t have to be a movie buff to recognize that this is going to be one of those “magic visitor changes everyone’s lives for the better movies”. Timothy encounters a string of townsfolk who each have their own baggage, and his fresh-faced, unadulterated, simple worldview wisdom is the key to everyone resolving their issues. Unfortunately, as a movie that wishes to have appeal for kids, all of these turnarounds are far too easy to give the adult viewer much to invest in. The people he meets have stereotypical, obvious character issues that they wear on their sleeves, and when Timothy comes along to clear them up, he doesn’t do anything that groundbreaking. His simple presence is enough to affect change.

Instead of complicating the characters or the plot, the movie invests its time trying to stir your emotions. They may skip over questions that would spring to your mind (such as “They can just enroll him in school without a birth certificate?” and “None of their relatives are hammering them about where this boy came from suddenly?”), but they over compensate with lots of scenic autumn shots, beaming sunlight, and emoting actors and actresses. Not that the cast overacts or does a poor job, in any way. David Morse, Diane Wiest, and Ron Livingstone are always awesome to see no matter. As is M Emmet Walsh. The three leads did a fine job, too. You can really get behind Garner and Edgerton as parents, and sympathize with their plight, and CJ Adams is fine as Pinocchio post-“Real Boy”. I just felt that the movie wanted to be very emotional and moving, simply by being emotional and moving.

If you’re easier on “feel good” movies than I am, or if you catch this on a lazy day while clicking through channels, or perhaps if you see it with a kid, who wont be as demanding of it… then perhaps you’ll have a decent experience with it. In the meantime, I have to call it out for taking too many shortcuts.


17 thoughts on “The Odd Life of Timothy Green

  1. Predictable, schmaltzy, and a tad unbelievable, but it’s still a nice movie to watch with the family and the performances will definitely hold you over. Especially, the one given by Edgerton where he just makes you believe in this dad that’s trying so hard to be different from his and honestly, would have worked wonders in a totally different film. Without Jennifer Garner as well, even though she does look fantastic for 40. Nice review my man.

    • Thanks Dan! I see you have your review up as well, gonna check that out now.

      I thought Garner was ok, here. I think the emphasis should be on “Predictable and Schmaltzy”, like you led with. LOL! Definitely the “Lead Story”.

  2. I saw the trailer the other day and when asked about where he came from, the mother said something like, “it’s complicated, I just think of him as our little miracle”. It was not a satisfactory reply. I could buy it, maybe, from a move from the 30’s or 40’s.

    It looks like it could be sweet and mildly entertaining, a sort of ‘Halmark’ feel good movie. But I had the weird feeling of, “what happens when he has finished his ‘mission’ and vanishes from their lives”? Because come on, he has leaves growing out of him. This doesn’t make me think he will grow up, get married, and give them grandbabies.

    • HAHAHA!!! Ohhhh wow Urbannight. If you thought THAT was an unsatisfactory reply, you havent seen anything yet. This movie employs every trick in the book to avoid the tough questions. Cut aways, interruptions, changing the subject, goofy non answers like that one, they practically resort to the old “LOOK! What is that?” and then run. 😀

      It is definitely sweet, and could be seen as mildly entertaining if you’re in a forgiving mood. I dont want to spoil the ending, lets just say they facilitate a nice clean happy end to the story. You know a movie like this wont end in gruesome death or anything. LOL

  3. There was a trailer of this before a movie I recently watched and I had never heard of it before…
    It seemed like the premise of the story was that the couple has an abortion, buries the fetus in the backyard, and then he magically comes to life as an 8 year old kid.

    I was kind of freaked out and it really put me off seeing this one even though I know that doesn’t happen.

  4. Unsurprisingly, this seems to be getting a critical thrashing all around. I’m refusing to see it for a couple reasons. One, it just seems too sugary-sweet to be enjoyable. And two, I’m certain that if I were to watch it, I would be unable to avoid thinking about the way it really should have gone.

    It sets itself up like a classic fairy tale. But in classic fairy tales, nothing good ever comes from strange beings crawling up out of the gardens. Best case scenario, the kid’s a fairy changeling; of course, if this were true, he could easily be identified as such by odd behavior, not quite looking right, pathological honesty, and dogged determination towards capricious goals… oh, wait. This isn’t the setup for a family movie, it’s the setup for a horror film. Let down your guard around that kid and he’ll be eating your face.


      😀 😀

      That is awesome! As someone who’s actually SEEN this movie, can I just tell you what an pleasant alternative movie that would have been to see? LOL. I hope someone does a mock trailer where they turn this flick into a horror movie. Until then, that was way too freaking funny.

    • Horribley, actually. It was gruesome. I was like, WOW. I thought this was supposed to be a kids movie, and now they’re… disenboweling the little star? Jesus, that’s not right!


      No spoilers for you. Just suffice it to say that if they DID do something like that, you could rest assured that it would be sanitized and safe… I’m sure it would make you sick.

  5. I caught the trailer for this before a film screening and it made me sick. Definitely not a movie I was interested in to begin with, and your review has really punctuated that. No thanks.

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