Northeast Times

‘Timothy Green’ fails to connect

After a rain­storm, a child ma­gic­ally ap­pears in ‘The Odd Life of Timothy Green.’

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The Odd Life of Timothy Green is one of those emo­tion­ally ma­nip­u­lat­ive movies that really don’t do much for me. From the mo­ment the movie began, I felt like it was try­ing to man­u­fac­ture emo­tions that just wer­en’t there.

The movie stemmed from an idea by Ah­met Zappa and was writ­ten and dir­ec­ted by Peter Hedges (What’s Eat­ing Gil­bert Grape, Dan in Real Life). It may have been bet­ter suited to a book. You really have to sus­pend real­ity to buy in­to this movie’s sac­char­ine mes­sage.

Set in Stan­leyville, which looks like an old-time Mid­west­ern town, The Odd Life of Timothy Green is the story of Jim (Joel Edger­ton) and Cindy (Jen­nifer Garner) Green, a child­less couple that has been des­per­ately try­ing to con­ceive.

Shortly after a doc­tor’s of­fice vis­it, they de­cide to stop try­ing to get preg­nant and ac­cept their fate. Over the course of the even­ing, they share a bottle of wine and dis­cuss what they think their child would have been like. Then, they bury a box in their back­yard. In that box are scraps of pa­per on which they lis­ted their child’s char­ac­ter­ist­ics.

After a heavy rain­storm, like ma­gic, a child sprouts up from the ground and makes his way in­to the house. The 10-year-old boy, who calls him­self Timothy (CJ Adams), is im­me­di­ately com­fort­able call­ing Cindy and Jim “Mom and Dad.” And, no sur­prise, he’s a lot like the child Jim and Cindy wrote about on the pa­pers they put in their box.

There is one thing that sep­ar­ates him from oth­er chil­dren — the seem­ingly ir­re­mov­able leaves at­tached to Timothy’s legs. Still, Jim and Cindy treat Timothy like their own son and en­roll him in school.

Ron Liv­ing­ston plays the boss at the pen­cil fact­ory where Jim works. (Side note: I can’t see this guy and not think about either TPS re­ports (Of­fice Space) or Post-its (Sex and the City).) The pen­cil fact­ory is in danger of shut­ting down and Jim could lose his job, so this is a con­stant source of stress for him.

Un­be­knownst to Jim and Cindy, Timothy’s leaves are slowly fall­ing off, so it’s quite ob­vi­ous where the storyline is go­ing. Plus, the par­ents are talk­ing about him in past tense as they tell a couple of ad­op­tion coun­selors why they should be al­lowed to ad­opt a child. Not telling the story in flash­back would have helped add a little mys­tery to things.

I like Jen­nifer Garner be­cause she seems like a nice, genu­ine per­son, but I have nev­er found any­thing par­tic­u­larly note­worthy about her act­ing. Lately, she seems to be planted firmly in the rom-com genre.

I was not too fa­mil­i­ar with Joel Edger­ton but he fit the “dad” role pretty well. Last year, he played an MMA (mixed mar­tial arts) fight­er in the crit­ic­ally ac­claimed but little seen movie War­ri­or.

The only time I laughed was at a line from the com­mer­cial. The dad tells Timothy to have a great day and the mom replies, “that’s too much pres­sure,” so he says, “have the day you have.”

In the end, The Odd Life of Timothy Green was too con­trived and overly sen­ti­ment­al to make a real im­pact. It didn’t feel much like a movie that would ap­peal to kids or adults. It isn’t the kind of movie that needs to be ex­per­i­enced at a big mul­ti­plex theat­er for the full ef­fect; it felt like more of a rainy day or Sunday af­ter­noon TV movie. ••

Movie Grade: C

You can reach at shorbrook@bsmphilly.com.

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