Starring: Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, CJ Adams, Odeya Rush, David Morse, Dianne Wiest, Ron Livingston, M. Emmet Walsh.
Rated PG. Drama/Comedy/Fantasy. Running Time: 2 hours.
I know this movie isn’t on our “coming soon” page, but we just got back from our long trip and Ethan really wanted to see it. Truth be told, Maria was pretty stoked too. The movie introduces us to a nice couple, Cindy and Jim Green (Garner and Edgerton), who both work for the Crudstaff family (the controlling family of their small town, think Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life), that own the pencil making factory and pencil museum that employs most of the town. Cindy and Jim want to have a baby desparately but for some reason, biological we would assume, they find out they cannot. Devastated and crying, they eventually sit down and start writing the wonderful traits they believe a child of theirs would have been blessed with. They put the pieces of paper in a wooden box and bury it in their garden. I don’t think I’ll give too much away here by telling you that Timothy magically “grows” out of that garden and that their lives are never the same. The Odd Life of Timothy Green flows beautifully, but predictably, from this unique beginning.
I really enjoyed this film, but I thought some of the themes were a bit heavy for children. There were a few occasions during the film, in which we had to explain some of the circumstances to Ethan. I found myself tearing up several times throughout as the plot examined every aspect of life: birth, death and all the challenges in between. Timothy (Adams) is a charming child that you instantly love from the moment he graces the screen. Not only because of the joy he brings the Green’s by giving them the child they’ve always dreamed of, but also because of the joy he brings every character in the story. One of the most touching moments is the bonding between the boy and his “Uncle” Bub (Walsh), as they laugh while the elderly man is in the hospital. They share the same sense of humor, as the Green’s had expressed in their wishes from the wooden box. There are many scenes such as this where the good natured little boy endears all who surround him, including the audience.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green was wonderfully cast and the actors were all spot on. The supporting cast was great, with Livingston and Wiest perfect in their roles as the domineering Crudstaffs. David Morse as Jim’s disappointing father and Walsh as the endearing Uncle Bub. But to me the true surprises were from the newcomers, Edgerton, Adams and Rush. I’m very good at recognizing actors from their previous roles, but I have to admit I’ve never seen these three before. I do have a good feeling we’ll be seeing more of all of them. Jennifer Garner has her usual, likeable persona on display, and she has an extremely believable maternal way about her (guessing that’s drawn from her real life experiences). This role had a quite similar feel to her turn in Juno, though much larger of course. The interaction between Cindy, Jim and Timothy is riveting from start to finish. Timothy’s quasi romance with the equally quirky Joni (Rush) is another highlight. As I mentioned, I found the plot mostly predictable, and the ending isn’t exactly right up my alley, but I was engaged and moved from start to finish. I agree with Maria that some of the themes are probably beyond kids younger than 12 or 13, and Ethan (8) had some very valid questions on our way to the car (unfortunately I can’t share them with you without spoiling major plot points.) Timothy Green is not movie perfection, but Peter Hedges screenplay of an Ahmet Zappa (son of the iconic singer Frank Zappa) story is certainly worth your two hours. It’s an original idea, beautifully performed and has a heart as big as the Grinch’s when it “grew three sizes that day.”
This wonderfully magical story made me cry, laugh, smile and finally, reflect. I can’t guarantee that you’ll love it, but I can guarantee that it will make you feel something. The story has so many valuable lessons to convey to people of all ages. Messages about loving each other, being kind to one another and accepting people who we may otherwise think of as odd. I think acceptance and tolerance is the most relevant message for the younger crowd, as we’ve seen countless incidents of bullying over the past few years. Bullying has always been a problem, but it seems that over the past decade it has become more severe in its cruelty. Timothy Green reminds us that sometimes people we perceive as wierd or odd, may just be different. And just because something is different and we don’t understand it, doesn’t mean we should automatically fear it. Lastly, one attribute they wished for Timothy was to “never give up”. This was my favorite attribute and one I wish every child could have, because they all should feel that anything is possible.
Ross’ Rating: 3.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.
Maria’s Rating: 4 Gummies.