At first glance The Odd Life of Timothy Green appears to be just another heartwarming Disney movie about a non-traditional family overcoming hardships, and for the most part it is. However, the movie nimbly avoids the usual “cheese-factor” that can often overwhelm this genre and make family-friendly films unlikable.
Jim and Cindy Green (Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner) are married and childless. The movie opens on their interview at an adoption agency. The rest of the film is a flashback to their experience with a boy named Timothy, whom they cite as their main qualification to be parents. Timothy Green is played by child actor C.J. Adams, the picture of childlike innocence. However, Adams brings enough skill to the screen that the unforeseen wisdom and maturity of Timothy’s character is not lost as the movie progresses towards its climax and conclusion.
The cinematographic quality of the film is what really prevents the movie from being overly sappy. This is easily seen in the events leading to Timothy’s appearance. After being informed they are unable to have children, the Greens go through a grieving process during which they write down all the characteristics they imagine their child would have. They place these pieces of paper in a wooden box and bury it in the garden as a sort of memorial for their lost dream. During a rainstorm, they wake to an abnormally loud crack of thunder and find Timothy in the house, stark naked, plastered with mud and with leaves growing out of his ankles. With no overtly or childishly magical happenings, the scene maintains a realness of emotion that keeps in the audience engaged and encourages a willing suspension of disbelief at Timothy’s extraordinary “birth,” and this genuineness continues throughout the movie.
The movie is beautiful and full of shots of the dazzling colors of autumn leaves before they fall, keeping with the theme as Timothy begins to lose his own leaves, which are tied to the wishes his parents wrote on the scraps of paper he grew from.
What is most likeable about this movie is the authenticity of the characters and the story. Despite the magical appearance of Timothy, the leaves on his legs, and a few other fantastic events, the rest of the movie is founded in a realistic portrayal of the characters. The Greens are not the inherently good and perfect family one expects in a fairytale; Crudstaff, the main antagonist, is not pure evil, and the resolutions for the various conflicts come about in fairly realistic and logical ways.
Overall, I would recommend Timothy Green to anyone in the mood for a cute and genuine movie about what it means to learn and grow together not only as a family, but as a community as well.