The Odd Life of Timothy Green follows the adventures of a magical boy and his effect not only on his new family but on the entire small town in which they live. While that sounds like it could be incredibily cheesy, director Peter Hedges brings a deft hand at balancing the family heart and the humor.
I feel like this movie had been on the back burner for ages, having been nearly a year since I saw the first trailer at the D23 convention alongside footage from John Carter and The Avengers. This movie had been pushed back and rescheduled a few times, which can a sign of a weak film. However, in this case it seems like the studio not wanting to rush the movie to audiences that weren’t ready, who were only fixated on the super heroes and the action. Timothy Green is a super hero of sorts himself – helping this dying town and his parents step in to a new chapter of their existence.
Timothy Green comes in to their lives exactly when they needed him most. The factory is dying, Cindy (Jennifer Garner) and Jim Green (Joel Edgarton) can’t having a child of their own, and the neighborhood “troublemaker” Joni (Odeya Rush) is in desperate need of a friend. Cindy and Jim receive the bad news that they’ll never create a new life of their own and have one daydream-filled night where they list out ten traits that their would-be kid would have and then bury it in their garden as a way of moving on. The winds change, rain p0urs down on just their home in a drought season, and then Timothy appears in their bed covered in dirt and with leaves that are growing out of his ankles.
These magical leaves stand as markers for his accomplishments in the limited time he’s with them. He’s funny like Uncle Bob, a leaf wilts off, he has a rock and roll moment, another leaf is shed, and so on and so forth. It serves as a to-do list and check system that keeps up the momentum throughout the film. While you know what’s to come, they do manage to spin things so they never turn out quite as you expect leading to some heartwarming moments and a lot of laughs.
The film is filled with messages from anti-bullying and the importance of being yourself, but surprisingly I never felt like it was overdone or too heavy-handed. Hedges balances the sorrow with the heartlifting, the morality lessons with the humor – that is definitely not an easy task.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green faces the odd challenge of having to appeal to families while also being a little serious and not as goofy as other children’s film. It reminded me of the Pixar film UP in the sense that the first few minutes are just so sad, disheartening even, and then the rest of the film has to try to find the lighter side of things. It may be hard to convince families to see it, but once they’re in the theater they will not be disappointed.