This week there were two movies with an equal chance of being pretty good: Paranorman and The Odd Life of Timothy Green. I get extra Disney points for seeing Timothy Green on opening weekend, and it’s got Joel Edgerton in it, so it won the coin toss (yes, it was rigged). There was a kind of Pay it Forward feel to Timothy Green, though I hoped it would dispense with the sad ending.
A couple buries their dreams of having a child in the garden only to have them magically morph into a ten year old boy who is part plant.
With a blurb like that, you’d expect it to be some kind of Plants vs Zombies expansion pack, but it’s actually your standard “being different is okay!” kids’ movie. As for whether they did away with the sad ending – only kind of. So although I did like The Odd Life of Timothy Green, I just didn’t love it.
How did they “kind of” do away with the sad ending, you ask? Well you can’t accuse me of spoiling you on the movie if I tell you, because what happened to Timothy is immediately apparent in the first scene of the movie. They use an interview with an adoption agent as a means of framing the movie to tell the past tense story of Timothy. And if you’re thinking it’s a little dumb to tell a story that makes you seem crazy to an adoption agent, it is.
Sooo…. when you say you’re recommending we be committed….
This scene is so obvious that Peter Hedges may as well have posted a giant sign outside the theater: WARNING!!! SAD PART AHEAD!!! PREPARE THE TISSUES!!! It kind of takes some of the emotion out of the sad part, since you know it’s coming, and that may actually be a bad thing, even though we all pretend we hate sad parts.
Hi, I’m Timothy. Don’t get attached to me. Seriously.
Anyway, once the huge obvious warning is out of the way, we jump back to when Cindy (Jennifer Garner) and Jim (Joel Edgerton) find out they can’t have kids. They go home, get a little drunk, imagine what their kid would have been like. Then they bury their notes in a box in the garden. One freak rainstorm later, and ta da! A fully formed 10 year old boy named Timothy (CJ Adams) is disgorged from the garden and ready for loving.
Hi! I’m Timothy. Try not to think of me climbing out of the ground like a zombie. Cause that’s what I did.
After about three seconds of considering whether they should phone the police and report him as a runaway, they take him in, give him some socks to cover up the leaves on his legs, and present him to the family.
Yup. We’ve got a ten year old. Since yesterday. Deal with it.
Even setting aside the leaf thing, Timothy is weird. He’s way too honest, he obviously has no clue other kids don’t come from gardens, he photosynthesizes in public, and he plays sports even worse than Charlie Brown, which makes me wonder why his parents insist he sign up for the soccer team.
Okay Timothy, ready to embarrass yourself in public?
Gee, I’m so glad we’re so different!
At this point the movie becomes your standard “it’s okay to be different” themed movie, with a sideshow plot about Cindy and Jim fumbling around trying to be parents while saving their pencil-making small town. As you might expect, this culminates in an eye rolling public scene in which an actual announcement is made that it’s okay to be different.
Okay, chill out, movie, we get it.
The movie feels like it moves awfully fast, because almost as soon as Timothy shows up they start setting the scene for his departure, because I guess without the warning the combined audience tears might damage the theater’s electrical system or something. But I enjoyed The Odd Life of Timothy Green, I did. Just not as much as I hoped to. It was a little too trite, a little too confused, and a little to telegraphed. But on the other hand, the kid is pretty cute and his parents are funny.
JIM: Have a great day!
CINDY: Too much pressure!
JIM: Have the day you have!
So I still say you should go see it. Just don’t expect to be profoundly moved or to have the overwhelming urge to add The Odd Life of Timothy Green to your list of “most amazing tearjerking epic sob stories ever.” It is a Disney movie, after all.