Please indulge me dear readers as I share my recent plight with you. After having spent the better part of my summer viewing films often rife with explosions and various other forms of pyrotechnics, car chases, gun battles, superheroes, and violence galore, I grew weary of it all. And as I perused the film listings for the local theaters, I hovered tenuously over the depths of despair.
Such titles as “Lawless,” “Hit & Run,” “Resident Evil: Retribution,” and “The Possession” assaulted my rapidly deteriorating psyche with promises of nothing more but the same old same old. Then it hit me. Watching another subpar action movie would surely push me into an abyss of madness from which I might never again emerge. I desperately needed a change of pace and a drastic one at that.
And suddenly there it was before me! My heart leapt with joy as I stared at a title that I had been passing over for weeks. Surely this was the film that would bring me kicking and screaming from my malaise. Thus it came to pass that “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” blew away the dark cloud of film oppression that had been plaguing me and restored my faith in Hollywood, mankind, and the family in just 100 minutes. Leave it to Disney Studios to come through!
It’s important to understand immediately that “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is a fantasy, and as such many may dismiss it as too sappy to be worth watching. But the movie is a heartwarming one with a strong message about the importance of the family in our culture. Yes it’s a feel-good movie, but what’s wrong with that?
As the movie begins, we meet Cindy (Jennifer Garner) and Jim Green (Joel Edgerton), who live in Stanleyville, N.C., a town known for its famous pencil factory, where Jim works. Stanleyville also has a museum, and this is where Cindy is employed. The Greens are a handsome couple, but one thing is missing in their lives—a child.
The story of the Greens’ relationship with Timothy unfolds via a flashback as Jim and Cindy explain the strange events that transpired in their lives to Evette Onat (Shohreh Aghdashloo), the head of an adoption agency. Jim and Cindy desperately want to adopt a child because doctors recently have informed them that they will never be able to conceive a child of their own, and when they learn this, they are understandably devastated.
On the evening after they receive the bad news, they decide one way of coping is to jot down on separate pages of a small notebook the characteristics their child might have had. They then take these, put them in wooden box, and bury the box in the back yard. Later that night after a heavy rain they hear a noise outside and discover that the box has been broken open, and its pieces are outside a hole in the ground.
When they return inside, they find a young boy covered with mud with leaves growing from his lower legs. He greets them cheerfully and announces that his name is Timothy (CJ Adams). Thus the Greens welcome a miracle into their home, and the rest of the film chronicles how Timothy changes their lives and those of their closest friends and relatives during his stay with them.
Now remember that this film is a fantasy, and if you are not willing to accept the premise that a boy emerged from a box of note pages planted in the earth, you should not bother watching the movie. But if you are willing to suspend your disbelief enough, you will fall in love with Timothy and everything he comes to represent in this lovely film.
As the movie progresses, Timothy exhibits, in one way or another, the characteristics that Jim and Cindy listed on that magical notepad, and the people with whom he comes in contact all learn something important from their association with him. And when the pencil factory faces the possibility of financial collapse, Timothy even comes up with an ingenious idea to save it and preserve the jobs of many who work there.
The movie presents an interesting cross section of the various families living in Stanleyville, and, no matter what their backgrounds may be, Timothy has an effect on all of them. In the film’s production notes, producer Scott Sanders (“Black Dynamite”) explained why this idea made the film special.
“One of the great things about this film is like any community, Stanleyville, the Anywhere, U.S.A. town where the story takes place, has a multitude of families. You have the Crudstaffs, the Best family, and the Greens. Then Timothy arrives into their lives, and it touches upon all different kinds of themes of traditional and non-traditional families. Love is really what matters in a family, and as long as that’s there, a family can be created from anything, including a boy born in a garden.”
The film works so well because of the terrific chemistry among Garner, Edgerton, and Adams. As soon as Timothy makes his unexpected arrival in the Greens’ home, they become the ideal family, and that the three stars can make the whole thing believable is a testament to their outstanding acting. Of course Garner and Edgerton are seasoned veterans, but young Adams shows poise beyond his years in front of the camera as does the lovely 15-year-old newcomer Odeya Rush as Joni Jerome, a girl who befriends Timothy. These two youngsters really light up the screen in their scenes together. In the production notes, producer Jim Whitaker (“Friday Night Lights”) explained why people should be able to relate to the Greens.
“Like so many of our own families, the Greens are an unusual family that emerges and then sort of stumbles along, and then grows into this wonderful family unit as the story progresses. You can’t help but fall in love with them because of the way they are as parents and the way they are as a family.”
This is film that parents can enjoy with their children, and it offers a welcome breath of fresh air because it is so different and because of the way it celebrates the family. I must admit that I really enjoyed the chance to watch a film that delineates the joys of parenthood and one that should put a smile on the face of everyone leaving the theater.
“The Odd Life of Timothy Green” (Give it a final score of eight.) is quite simply a very nice movie. After they meet Timothy in this film, the first thing parents will want to do is hug their children. And that is a very good thing. Thanks Timothy.