Cindy (Jennifer Garner) and Jim (Joel Edgerton) Green want nothing more than a child. When they are told that their chances of conceiving are nil, they discuss what their biological child would be like, over a bottle of wine, then bury their notes in the garden. After a freak rain spell, the couple are woken to discover a young boy named Timothy (CJ Adams) in their house; a young boy who calls them Mom and Dad.
If you have seen the trailer for The Odd Life of Timothy Green, you will know from the outset that this is a movie that requires disbelief to be suspended high, and is designed to be a tearjerker. Disney thrives on making films that employ just a touch of fairy dust and magic, but the idea that a child can grow in a vegetable patch – without any real hint at magic, other than rain (and backwards rain) in a drought stricken town – takes a little getting used to.
Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton do well as Cindy and Jim Green. Neither is really given much of a chance to develop their character into anything other than a loving person who is desperate for a child, but that’s OK; it works. Sadly, the two actors are involved in two scenes that are almost embarrassing to watch; one involves an imagined soccer game and the other, the song Lowrider by War.
CJ Adams, as Timothy, is the heart of the film. There is something charming about the wide-eyed boy whose parents’ hopes were the seed that he grew from. Timothy has a healthy wonder for the world, and his love affects every life that he touches. David Morse has a small role as Jim’s father who could never connect to his child, and Ron Livingstone tries to shake off his nice guy image as a mean factory owner.
So far, so sweet, but where The Odd Life of Timothy Green gets truly odd is not the fact that Timothy grew in the garden or has leaves on his legs, but the story. The film tries to cram all the Green’s wishes for their son into 105 minutes, and in doing so leaves the film feeling jumbled. The audience spends most of the running time trying to figure out which wish will come true next, and as such the film feels like it is floating from event to event. Also, why doesn’t Cindy mourn the loss of her beloved uncle? Why do Timothy and Joni build a leafy wonderland? How come Timothy doesn’t know which goal belongs to his team?
Writer / Director Peter Hedges certainly erred on the side of sweetness, but we never learn anything about Timothy and where he has come from. The actors play one note throughout the film, which allows any emotion built up to simply dribble away.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green is certainly an odd film that does not entirely live up to its own promise. Garner and Edgerton are fairly sweet and CJ Adams’s precocious child is gently heart warming, but the film raises more questions than it answers and uses just the wrong amount of whimsy to be magical.