Academy Award(R)-nominated director/writer Peter Hedges (“Dan in Real Life,” What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?”) brings enchantment to the screen with “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” an inspiring, magical story about a happily married couple, Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton), who can’t wait to start a family but can only dream about what their child would be like. When young Timothy (CJ Adams) shows up on their doorstep one stormy night, Cindy and Jim–and their small town of Stanleyville–learn that sometimes the unexpected can bring some of life’s greatest gifts.
What a unique and original story which is humorous, dramatic, and, regarding life, very telling. The three main actors in this story, Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton as the parents, Cindy and Jim, and CJ Adams as Timothy, are terrific. The audience I screened this film with laughed out loud on several occasions. This one should do well at the box office.
Jim and Cindy Green are childless and long to have children. They are told it is not biologically going to happen. Cindy is devastated and depressed so that evening Jim coaxes her into writing down the qualities they want in a child. It’s his way of getting her not to give up. The scene is comedic as they pretend they are at their child’s game and he kicks the winning score at the soccer game. They imagine his big heart and that he will be “honest to a fault’. They bury their list in the garden and that night a strong rain descends on their property alone. Later that night they hear noises and believe an intruder has broken into their home. Instead, they find a boy with mud all over his body in the bedroom they had reserved for their future child. Where did he come from? The fact he is growing leaves on his legs indicates he is a different kind of boy. They take in the boy, named “Timothy” which is, maybe more than coincidentally, the name they planned to name their first child if he were a boy.
If this story weren’t handled with great care it could turn out to be a bit extreme and laughable but instead it is laughable because the talented cast and director make it work with genuinely funny moments. One funny moment takes place when Timothy suddenly stops what he is doing and when the sun comes out he spreads out his arms and looks to the sky with his eyes closed, soaking in the sun like a plant or flower reaching out to the sun. It is spontaneous and draws quizzical looks from everyone near him. In another scene he meets Cindy’s uncle who tells young Timothy, “Did you know that I invented the peanut and butter jelly sandwich?” “Did you know that I admire your work!” says Timothy with a straight face. Young CJ Adams is a talented young actor who has wonderful comic timing and a deadpan expression which works well in this movie. He also manages to make Uncle Bob laugh later when Bob winds up in the hospital, and Bob hadn’t laughed for a long time.
This movie will touch many viewers, the young and parents as well. Its themes are inspirational as it reflects on the legacy of having children and that it’s all right to be a bit different and that love makes the world go round. Although one strong utterance of language means us recommending the movie for ages twelve plus, parents should consult the content chart below. Some parents will be fine with their kids eight and up viewing the film. This movie is well made and we are happy to award it five Doves, our highest rating, and to add, “Well done!”