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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Odd Life of Timothy Green | Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, CJ Adams | Review

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The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Wouldn't it be awesome if what we most hoped and wished for could be fulfilled just by writing it down on a piece of paper, burying it in a garden and having it pop up overnight like a beautiful flower.
Well, in the movies anything is possible.  Case in point is the fantasy comedy drama, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, about a little boy who sprouts from the imagination of a couple desperate for a child of their own.  They conceive him, but not in the way they had planned.

Set in the small town of Stanleyville, the pencil capital of the world, Jennifer Gardner and Joel Edgerton portray Cindy and Jim Green, a happily married couple who are unable to conceive a child, at least not in the natural way, when suddenly a miraculous thing takes place.  Told in flashback, the film begins as the couple share their unbelievable (for sure) story with a stonefaced adoption attorney (the wonderful Shohreh Aghdashloo).  The way they tell it, devastated after years of unsuccessful attempts and procedures to get pregnant, one night the couple decide to open a bottle of wine, and in a gleeful moment write down the qualities their dream child would have.  For some unknown, silly reason, they put the pieces of paper in a box and bury it in their garden before going to sleep.  Following a torrential rainfall, the next morning, lo and behold, a little boy (CJ Adams) calling himself Timothy (the name Cindy has chosen for her son) shows up in their house covered from head to toe with dirt and leaves growing out of his legs.

Shocked and bewildered at first at the miraculous sudden appearance of this adorable ten year old who quickly addresses Cindy and Jim as mom and dad, the couple eagerly embrace the opportunity to be parents and raise him as their own.

Instead of questioning where this boy came from, which would be the natural reaction of anyone, everyone he comes in contact with accepts Timothy as the Green's new son.  As he interacts with Cindy and Jim's family and other members of the community, the young boy winds up teaching them some life lessons. He even forms a special  bond with a pretty young girl (newcomer Odeya Rush) who has a secret of her own. As the story unfolds, Cindy and Jim learn a lot about what it takes to be a parent. Timothy gets to make sickly, old Uncle Bud (M. Emmet Walsh) laugh as he lays in a hospital bed. Timothy brings a smile to Cindy's nasty, sour puss of a boss (Dianne Wiest) after he draws a truthful, realistic image of her and eventually Jim's cold and distant, non supportive father (David Morse) comes around.

Garner and Edgerton are both likable and do a fine job with the material as does CJ Adams as the sprouted seed of their longing. In smaller roles are Lois Smith, as Cindy's Aunt Mel,  Rosemarie DeWitt, as Cindy's bitchy, competitive sister, Ron Livingston (deWitt's real life hubby) as the unscrupulous manager of the pencil factory, and Common as Timothy's soccer coach, but these and all the supporting characters never expand beyond one dimensional cliches.

Writer/director Peter Hedges (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, About a Boy, Dan in Real Life) adapted the screenplay from a story by Ahmet Zappa who also produced the film.  Zappa came up with a good idea for an enchanting, fantasy tale, but unfortunately, the execution doesn't live up to its potential. It is all very sweet and sentimental, but I never felt that Timothy's behavior was so extraordinary.  He acts like a normal kid, except for the fact that on occasion he likes to stand with his with arms outstretched and face looking upward to bask in the sun.

There are several messages including those about parenting skills, bullying and being different, but the lack of believability and gaping plot holes are overpowering to the point that I was turned off and not invested in the story.

Odd is indeed a better word to describe this movie.  That is a shame because I was so looking forward to something magical.

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