Guess who's coming to dinner—and he's brought salad on his legs

The Odd Life of Timothy Green

on August 13, 2012 by Pete Hammond
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timothy_green.jpgThe Odd Life Of Timothy Green is odd, indeed. It's a magical film in the vein of E.T. where an otherworldly event changes a family forever. The fairly simple plot revolves around a childless couple and the perfect child of their dreams who sprouts out of their garden, but in the hands of writer/director Peter Hedges, it somehow forms a cohesive whole that is funny, different, touching and full of heart—it's not just perfect entertainment for the whole family, it's about the importance of family. As it lacks an obvious hook, box office prospects will depend on strong word of mouth, but given careful handling, it could develop into a modest late-summer player for Disney's younger demographic.

The story is told in the form of a flashback as Cindy (Jennifer Garner) and Jim (Joel Edgerton) Green, a childless couple (but not for lack of trying) tell their extraordinary tale to a disbelieving adoption agency representative (Shoreh Aghdashloo). After finally giving up on having their own child, as catharsis, the two sat down and wrote several specific and different attributes for the perfect boy named Timothy they knew they could have had. They stuck all these pieces of paper in a box and buried it—and their dream—in their garden. Then on one stormy night, Jim suspects someone is running through the home. He spots the muddy boy and the adventure with Timothy Green (C.J. Adams)—a child who is everything they imagined—begins. All that separates him from normal kids are the leaves attached to his legs, and so the couple adjusts to this fantastical occurrence and integrate him into their lives, even as their friends and family find it hard to believe. At last, they have a chance at a "normal" family life, and they run with it.

Hedges, working from an original story by Ahmet Zappa (son of Frank), doesn't overplay any of the emotions, and Timothy Green resists schtick to maintain warmth and credibility with their family audience. Garner and Edgerton are perfectly matched as the couple who would do anything to have a family, and we invest in their farfetched story because they believe so wholeheartedly in their "gift" that the tale rings real and heartfelt. Hedges uses the flashback device throughout, and their efforts to convince Aghdashloo of the truth of their wild story are whimsical. Adams is an ideal choice as Timothy, the object of their dreams and he delivers a charming cloying-free turn. The rest of the supporting cast is fine, but not given much to do though its always nice to see Dianne Wiest (as Garner's mother) show up—she's an actress worth digging up the garden for.

Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Cast: Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, C.J. Adams, Shoreh Ashdashloo, Rosemarie DeWitt, Common, Odeya Rush, M. Emmett Walsh, David Morse
Director: Peter Hedges
Screenwriter: Peter Hedges, story by Ahmet Zappa
Producers: Jim Whittaker, Scott Sanders, Ahmet Zappa
Genre: Comedy/Family
Rating: PG for mild thematic elements and brief language
Running Time: 125 min.
Release Date: August 15, 2012

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Tags: The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, Peter Hedges, C.J. Adams, Shoreh Ashdashloo, Common, Rosemary DeWitt, Odeya Rush, M. Emmett Walksh, David Morse, Ahmet Zappa, Walt Disney Studios
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