“The Odd Life of Timothy Green”
Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgarton) want a baby so badly that they have gone through all the medical help available, and their personal savings, too, all to no avail. They’ve just been told that there is no longer anything left to try. So they go home sad and weary and beyond disappointed; they are devastated.
People deal with grief different ways. Cindy wants to just forget about it and move on as best they can. Jim wants one more nostalgic run at their little game of imagining what kind of ideal kid they would have: you know, someone who loves to play, is inquisitive and smart, draws well, loves music, is a decent athlete, sweet and loving----all the things every parent wants. So they write that stuff down on little pieces of paper, put them in a box, and go out in the garden in back and bury the box. As if burying all their hopes for having a child along with the box.
Don’t ask about the theology or science of this, but in the middle of the night a great storm arises over their house, and out of the ground comes…..their ideal child. His name is Timothy, and he’s 12. He’s sweet and charming and calls them Mom and Dad. Cindy and Jim are at first shocked and overwhelmed, then want to call 911 to report a missing child, but then discover when Timothy has leaves on his ankles----permanently attached----and that there’s a big hole in the garden where he came out---wait, this isn’t someone else’s child. He’s theirs.
Timothy turns out to be the kind of boy who loves nature, and doesn’t understand much about relating to other kids. He’s bullied at school, but he doesn’t fight back or even get mad about it. He just endures it. He’s terrible at soccer (all the other kids, of course, have been playing since they were toddlers). He finally makes a friend: an older girl, Joni (Odeya Rush), who’s sweet to him and enjoys being outside with him. They make a playground filled with colorful leaves and flowers and stick-sculptures.
Naturally, the rest of the Cindy and Jim’s family is extremely curious about where this kid came from, but somehow they believe the happy couple’s admonitions that it’s best not to talk about it. Timothy has a way of making adults feel really comfortable around him. His sick uncle laughs heartily for the first time in ages. His curmudgeon grandfather actually tries harder to be considerate. Even the caustic, imperious witch on wheels who is Cindy’s boss (Dianne Wiest, in a significant but unsympathetic minor role) drops her crusty defenses ever so slightly around him. Timothy Green is the kind of kid who just brings out the warm and tender in everyone. And that’s the kind of movie this is, also. It will bring out the warm and tender in you.
Sure, there are lots of pretty landscape scenes. Yes, there’s weeping and laughing and loving, sometimes all at the same time. Disney knows how to do a true family movie. Because of the unbelievable premise, it’s an odd little film. But this is one that the whole family can enjoy together, and that in itself is reason enough to embrace it.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving, Texas