This summer at the cinema, children have ruled the silver screen. Usually, decent child actors are hard to come by and if it is a child-focused film, the stories are usually about a coming of age story or conquering an evil principal or something. This summer has not only discovered great child actors, but has put each of these actors in films with real heart and unique stories. The romance of the two youths in “Moonrise Kingdom” melted hearts, the story of Hushpuppy in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” moved plenty to tears and now the wide-eyed wonder of Timothy Green joins the list with the release of “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.”
“Timothy Green” is about a young couple, Cindy (Jennifer Garner) and Jim (Joel Edgerton), who have been trying for years to have a child but to no avail. When the doctor finally tells them to give up, Cindy and Jim write down what their dream child would have been like on pieces of paper and bury the box and their sadness of what can’t be in the backyard. It’s a really powerful scene that mixes joy and sadness together beautifully. In a magical twist of fate, a surprise storm delivers a child, Timothy (CJ Adams), to the couple.
Timothy is everything the couple put into their box and wanted – much to their great joy and pride – and a bit more. The unusual boy comes to them already roughly 11 years old, has leaves on his legs and will often get wrapped up in soaking up the sun. As people thrust into the parenthood role, Cindy and Jim make a lot of mistakes. They end up using Timothy like an object — Cindy uses him to make her sister jealous and Jim uses Timothy to prove to his dad that he’s better than him — but despite their flaws, they still love Timothy and do their best to learn from their mistakes. Usually adults raise a child, teaching life lessons, but in this case, Timothy ends up teaching Cindy and Jim lessons and raising them to be parents.
The movie is sweet – Hallmark channel sweet, but there is also a lot of sadness. Garner and Edgerton do a good job displaying just the right amount of mixed emotion throughout the film and they make a good couple. Adams, as Timothy, doesn’t exactly have a lot to do in his role except coyly smile. The character of Timothy is a bit flat, through no fault of Adams. Timothy is a flat character because he’s out of a box. We already know everything he’ll do in the film because the parents laid it out when they wrote out his traits to put in the box. He has no freedom and is little more than a robot when it comes to his role in the family. Yet there are a few moments in the film when Timothy is a bit more than what his parents predefined him to be and these are the moments he has with his crush, Joni (Odeya Rush).
Rush is a very alluring find – she’s like a preteen Mila Kunis – and she is drawn to Timothy because she’s a little different than other kids herself. Their moments and innocent friendship are some of the most fun moments of the film and reminded me a lot of what I loved about the adolescent love in “Moonrise Kingdom.” Yes, the story was about Timothy and the Greens, but I really loved when it was just Timothy and Joni. This is when the real magic of the movie takes place.
For film about such an unusual premise, it’s actually a very predictable story, albeit a sweet one. The predictability is all the more because of a weak framing device for the tale. “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” isn’t the best film of the summer, but it is an enjoyable family tale that will be sure to warm hearts.