- Character Development
I had my misgivings when going into the theater to see Disney’s The Odd Life of Timothy Green. I try to avoid violent movies, which means I review a lot of PGs and, though I have a good time seeing them, they’re not always “fun for all ages” (see my review of Diary of a Wimpy Kid here). My worries were in vain; however, Odd Life is instantly enchanting and I was hooked throughout the entire 100-minute production.
The story centers around a couple, Cindy and Jim Green, who desperately want a child. They try and try, but it’s not to be. Receiving a final “no” from their doctor, they go home devastated. In their grief, the two design the child they want and write down the ideal characteristics: honest to a fault, has Uncle Bob’s sense of humor, is a “glass half-full” person, etc. Then, finally ready to let go, they put all that they’ve written in a box and bury it in the garden.
That night a storm brews. It rains and rains and rains — but only over the Green’s house. And when they awake, there is a mysterious boy in their house. He’s covered in mud and has leaves on his legs. He’s also honest to a fault, has Uncle Bob’s sense of humor, is optimistic… as strange as it seems, there’s no mistake that he’s the dream-child of Cindy and Jim. What follows is a parable of parenthood as we watch Cindy and Jim struggle to do their best with their unexpected arrival.
The acting and character development was excellent. CJ Adams played the lead character with a disarming smile. Though Timothy often got the short end of the stick — he was benched during almost every soccer game and teased at school — he faces every adversary with bright eyes and a look of confident innocence. What’s more, Adams manages to pull this off without portraying Timothy as a goody-two-shoes with no personality. He’s both interesting and relatable.
The other notably awesome child actor is Odeya Rush, who plays the quiet misfit girl interest, Joni. This is the 15-year-old’s first movie, but she pulls it off like a pro. Even though she doesn’t say a lot, we know what sort of person Joni is the minute she rides her bike across the screen; she is the misfit hippie, the older-than-her-years naturalist, the tough girl in the corner.
Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton also deserve a kudos for playing Timothy’s parents. They’re the image of good people who want to do what’s right but sometimes fall short. Jim Green is always ready with a “now when I was your age” story, but is too emotional at Timothy’s soccer games. Cindy Green is a loving mother but takes her sister’s snide comments and comparisons of Timothy to her perfect kids too much to heart. The end product is a believable couple who are too hard on themselves.
Usually I don’t get emotional at movies. Well, except scary movies, but that emotion’s just fear and it doesn’t last any further than a few minutes past the movie’s end. But I have a feeling this one will stick with me a while. It was sweet, and it was sad, and it was funny. And all the emotion felt real. Whether it was the awkward “what do we do?” panic of finding a mysterious child in your house, the mortification of wondering if your son’s about to do something embarrassing, or the sorrow of knowing nothing can last forever, the audience feels it right along with the characters.
The Scenery and Setting
The Disney touch is definitely present throughout this movie. Whether it’s an image of colorful fall leaves or rain glistening off fresh-tilled garden soil, it’s clear the Greens live in a pretty place. The house itself is an old, many-roomed home right from a fairytale. I’m in love with everything visual about this film, be it Joni’s bright outfits or the green foresty wonderland that serves as Timothy’s favorite place.
The story takes place in Stanleyville, the “Pencil Capital of the World”, where their local soccer team goes by “The Erasers.” Mrs. Green works in the Pencil Museum, telling the history of the town and its pencils. Mr. Green works in a pencil factory. There are awesome factory shots of bright yellow pencils rolling down an assembly line and of big tubs of red eraser ends. It’s a quaint town full of old houses and cookie-cutter families. Basically, I want to live there.
Stray Plot Points
There was a lot going on that could’ve been explored but wasn’t. For instance, there were layoffs at the pencil factory and trouble in Mrs. Green’s workplace that was all glossed over; what was supposed to be a major climactic moment was brushed away in a single scene. The movie would have felt more fulfilling if they’d either left out the extra details completely or explored them more thoroughly. As is, we get glimpses of things that could be interesting — a relationship with Timothy’s great aunt and uncle, a workplace conflict, intolerant classmates — but no juicy details.
This isn’t really a bad thing, but something I feel should be mentioned. While it’s rated PG and has no sex or violence and very little bad language, the film may still fly over the heads of youngsters, depending on their age. For instance, some might not be able to comprehend the issue of the couple not being able to have a child and their sadness. The movie focuses mostly on the parents who are having grown-up concerns over their odd son, rather than the odd son himself, though there are plenty of fun and fantastical elements. I’d say ages 8 and up is the ideal for this film.
Overall Score: 4 out of 5
Igive this one four stars. It’s imaginative and magical and the actors portray their characters beautifully. The only fault is some elements don’t get explored to their full potential, which distracts from the main story. My verdict: See it in theaters and then buy the DVD.
‘The Odd Life of Timothy Green’ Movie Trailer