Friday, November 1, 2013

The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Directed by Peter Hedges.
2012. Rated PG, 105 minutes.
Dianne West
CJ Adams
David Morse

Cindy (Garner) and Jim Green (Edgerton) are a happily married couple with one major problem. For whatever reason, they will never produce a baby of their own. We meet them as they’re applying to become adoptive parents. When asked what qualifies them for parenthood, they relate the story of Timothy (Adams), their son. Confused? Okay, pay attention. The year before, the Green’s decided they were going to move and continue their lives without worrying about having children. To symbolize this, they bury their list of baby names in the backyard. When it rains that night, guess what grows like a planted seed? Only, instead of a newborn the Greens get Timothy, a ten year old boy with leaves attached to his legs. A crash course in parenting ensues.

Ask any parents, if you yourself are not one, and they will tell you that your first child teaches you how to be one. This happens as the child grows from birth. Imagine the confusion someone feels if they suddenly gained a ten year old after not having any kids at all. You may think you know what to do, but will quickly discover you don’t. Such is the case with the Greens. Things arise that they are totally unprepared for. We watch as they muddle through them. We also get to see Timothy grow as a person. Though undeniably awkward, he is a charming kid. Along with Jennifer Garner’s angst and Joel Edgerton’s flusteredness (?), Timothy pulls us through the movie.

The cynic in me wants to hate this movie so badly because of all it’s thorough Disneyness. Throughout the succession of obstacles placed before our microwave family, we’re given heartwarming, cute and heartwarmingly cute moments. Timothy repeatedly proves to be everything the Greens hoped for, in quite the literal sense. A number of these also have enough humor to keep things bouncing along merrily. And of course, our little hero changes the lives of everyone he comes into contact with. This is all so syrupy sweet I think it will force my lunce to reappear as soupy chunks on my lap, but it doesn’t. Somethow, The Odd Life of Timothy Green drives right up to the cliff of happiness where it threatens to fall into a hopelessly twee abyss. Alas, it manages to keep its balance. I keep all of my meals down plus the popcorn I’ve been gnawing on. Everybody wins.

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