The Odd Life of Timothy Green – 2012

Written and Directed by Peter Hedges
Starring Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, CJ Adams, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ron Livingston, Dianne Wiest, David Morse, Common, Odeya Rush, M. Emmet Walsh

…Timothy Green is a film that tries so hard to be liked, it makes one wonder what is wrong with it.  The vibe throughout the film is a mixture of relaxed (the kids) and idiocy (the parents and coaches) reminiscent of the feeling one gets from watching any show on the Disney Channels of satellite and cable.  The heart of the film is in the right place, there just does not seem to be anyone with brains in the vicinity.

Starting off with an anxious couple Cindy (Garner) and Jim (Edgerton) Green, we find that they are waiting to meet up with Adoption Services.  One can only wonder why.  In a ridiculous twist meant only to further exposition, Jim and Cindy begin to imbue the A.S. staff, and us, about the last year of their life.

The year starts with bad news for the couple.  The find out that they are not going to have a natural child and it is devastating for them.  Somehow they come up with an idea (it won’t be the first) that keeps them occupied until they fall asleep.  When they wake up,  they find that not only has it stormed over their house (and only their house) during a drought, but a little boy has appeared out of almost nothing.

The boy is almost an angel.  He does everything that they wanted as a child and, as a bonus, stands in the open and literally absorbs the sun.  What he does with it varies, but suffice to say it was a tad underwhelming.  Timothy Green the character is not bad, though.  His outlook on life is uncannily optimistic.  He seeks friends that most kids might avoid, and he seeks and wins the heart of a girl (Rush) with whom he shares a special bond.  The scenes with the kids are natural and not rushed, kind of like a Stephen King book.  Unfortunately, also like King, the adults around these real kids seem clueless and meandering.

Edgerton suffers perhaps the most from this malady.  His earlier work (especially Warrior and Animal Kingdom) shows a depth and maturity presented in near silence, here he is babbling all the time.  If he’s not announcing his insecurity with his father, he is admitting he’s a failure right along side his wife.  There really does not seem to be another speed for Jim Green.

Then there is Cindy, as presented by Jennifer Garner.  Time was, when she was on the show Alias, one might wonder how good of an actress Garner would become.  The scale has indeed shifted, and now it is practical to wonder whether she has the chops to carry a film any more.  Her likability remains high, until she gives you 53 reasons why she might as well go to “theatre.”  It’s one thing to be unable to rescue a bad script, it’s quite another to take a match to it while the camera is rolling.

In a Disney story, one can always find the old folks because the are more intelligent than the rest of the younger adults.  They get along better with the kids acting as intellectual peers of a sort.  Despite these good qualities, more often than not, they will not be getting out of the film alive.  M. Emmet Walsh, playing Uncle Bub is just crazy enough to be that lovable…with weird hair to boot.

Will you like this film?  It really depends on your age, I think, and how hopeful your outlook.  The more grounded will understand what they are going for and be appreciative of the attempt.  The children will be elated and saddened where appropriate.  There is not anything necessarily offensive, other than the lack of sensibilities.

(*** out of *****)

Em’s review:
I really do enjoy this movie.  Of all the characters, I like Timothy the best.  The part of the movie I liked best was when his parents asked if he had fun at the party, and Timothy said, “I kicked a girl in the face.”  Although I didn’t like when he did kick Joni in the face.  I can’t believe that she liked him after that.  It was so funny, almost everybody in the theater laughed.  I liked at the beginning of the movie when the parents don’t know what to say to Timothy just showing up in their house.  The half-ending was the worst.

(****1/2 out of *****)

El’s review:
I really liked the movie.  My favorite part was when they made the pencil with the leaves.  My least favorite part of the movie was when he went away.

(100 *’s out of 100)

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