THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN is… well, really… what’s the point? This is about as cheap as they come in the area of emotional manipulation with Peter Hedges’ film trying at all costs to yank your heart strings enough that maybe you’ll shed some tears for this story of a boy who grew from the ground and the lives he supposedly touched along the way. But the only people who should find themselves most affected by this inept family film are the same people that can’t help but bawl at phone company commercials where a couple of people are reunited after much time and distance apart.
Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton, who deserve a lot better at this point), are a couple living in Stanleyville, the pencil capitol of the world, who also happen to be unable to conceive a child, something they desperately want to expand their family, no matter how hard they try. Upon hearing this terrible news, they decide to crack open a bottle of wine and, before they can allow themselves to move on, draw up the characteristics and traits of what their perfect kid – never give up, funny, good-hearted – would have been. They put all these Post-Its in a box, plant it in their garden, and, when a magic rainstorm only over their house waters it… VOILA! They’ve got themselves a fully grown 10-year-old boy, who knows how to walk, talk and can even identify his two new parents by name, as if he’d been with them for all of his short life. The one caveat is that he has a set of leaves attached to his legs, which will factor in later, but whatever. These people will take a kid with plant life growing from his body over no child at all, and with that we’re off on the journey of this new family.
The problem with the ODD LIFE isn’t the titular Timothy (CJ Adams). It’s completely bizarre to see a kid dropped in the middle of people’s lives without any bit of awkwardness, other than him stopping and sunning himself at random moments, but Adams brings a maturity and a wide-eyed enthusiasm to the role that it’s hard to not get swept up by the joy he is bringing to the more troubled souls he encounters. Much of that can be attributed to Adams’ cuteness, because there’s not much of a story to TIMOTHY GREEN. It feels like a bunch of sequences thrown together to make the most of the positive feelings Adams is able to incur, but there’s no real thread consistent through the movie for any of it to make any sense. Even the significance of the leaves isn’t explained until far too late in the film for them to matter or carry any importance. Had such a vital detail been revealed a bit earlier, then perhaps there may have been some emotional investment to make, but, as it stands now, it’s only a means to an end, used as a way to bring this meandering movie somehow to a sloppy close.
The parents are where TIMOTHY GREEN is truly broken. Garner and Edgerton are over the top in their excitement, and become downright scary as the people who appreciate and celebrate every single thing their new garden child does. I have two kids myself, so I completely understand getting psyched over everything little sweet thing they do, as if no human in the history of mankind has ever done them before. But these are the worst kind of parents, destined for a future as a stage mom or a helicopter dad. They insist on having Timothy not being seen as weird or different, and are determined that he’s going to be a normal kid… yeah, except for the fact that he has leaves on his legs. What’s so normal about that? These are the type of people that if their child was autistic or dyslexic or had some other learning disability would just bury their head in the sand and refuse to take the measures necessary for their son, because they’re more concerned with what others think and in having the average child like everyone else. They are the type of parents who hassle a sports coach about putting their kid in the game (and they do just that in the film). Next thing you know, they’re the ones calling a job, asking why their son wasn’t hired. I feel sorry for them not being able to have children, because I’m supposed to, because my experience tells me that’s a situation deserving of sympathy, not because of anything they do or anything that they will do. These are simply annoying people who aren’t enjoyable at all to watch live.
THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN becomes so overtly sentimental in the message it tries to convey through Timothy that its sweetness becomes downright sickening. It’s like drinking Pepsi syrup (much sweeter than Coca-Cola’s perfection) from the fountain, minus the water and carbonation that makes it much easier to choke down. You wind up with an upset stomach over this less than bright idea, spending the immediate future groaning over what you’ve done. THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN elicits similar reaction.
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