The Odd Life Of Timothy Green (2012) Review
This film is something of a curiosity. A sweet fairy tale fable in which wishes are granted in a quirky and offbeat way and the central characters learn heartwarming and valuable life lessons along the way. So far so Disney.
The cast is likeable, with Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton playing Cindy and Jim Green, a couple who are informed they cannot have children which devastates them to the core. The story is framed by the Greens sitting across from the adoption agency manager relating the fantastical tale of Timothy Green. Unfortunately, the framing device is clunky, intrusive and disrupts the flow of the movie. It also undermines Timothy’s central mission to make Cindy and Jim into good parents by stopping every so often to remind you that they’re not particularly adept parents or, indeed, people.
However, C J Adams’ turn as the eponymous Timothy Green is an absolute delight and he really sells the whimsical, mystical nature of Timothy well, carrying the film when other aspects threaten to drag it down into schmaltzy made-for-TV melodrama. Odeya Rush as Joni, Timothy’s friend and soulmate, is another highlight and the film is made richer by her quiet, understated performance. Stalwart character actors M Emmet Walsh as Uncle Bub and Dianne Wiest as Ms Crudstaff add their usual magic to the proceedings and the film is noticeably better when they are on screen.
There’s a great deal of subtext here, and parents – especially those of children with special needs – will find much to dwell on in the movie’s central message, which seems to be the need for tolerance, understanding, celebrating our unique differences and how achievement can be measured in more ways than you can imagine.
Ultimately, though, “The Odd Life Of Timothy Green” lacks the courage of its own convictions. It stops way short of being the rousing, emotionally satisfying and uplifting story it could be and settles for the safe option almost every time. There are no genuine epiphanies for the curmudgeonly characters: the mean, the bitter, the jealous, the vain. Oh, there are some characters who apparently change their ways but it’s articulated so poorly and indistinctly you can’t really be sure. The side story about the troubles of the town and its ailing pencil factory feels more like filler than a legitimate part of the story. Even the death of one of the characters isn’t really made clear until it’s explicitly mentioned later on.
I’d have preferred a stronger moral core, where there was a clear redemption and/ or comeuppance for the characters who lived their lives in selfish or hurtful ways but it’s too wishy-washy to take a stand. I’d also have preferred Timothy to be a bit wiser and knowing about his purpose in being there; a kind of benign manipulator using his charm and apparent naivety to help the Greens and the town.
This could have been something really special. A wholesome, family weepy that held important messages but instead it just narrowly avoided being a made for TV Hallmark special. It reminded me most of 1986’s “The Boy Who Could Fly” but where that film soared, this just falls to the ground like an autumn leaf.