Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Take: The Odd Life of Timothy Green


Timothy Green

Something new for today.  At least, I think it’s new.  I don’t think I’ve ever done a movie review, though I have been known to go on about a particular television show.  But, over the weekend, I had an opportunity to se The Odd Life of Timothy Green, so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about it.

First, I should just tell you my bias right up front: I love Disney films.  Lately, Brian and I don’t see all that many movies (there are fewer and fewer that seem worth the rising cost), but as soon as I saw the trailer for this one, I knew I’d have to be there.  Brian doesn’t have any strong feelings one way or the other about Disney films—as long as they aren’t animated—but he usually indulges me my whims.  Even when we end up being among the handful of adults unaccompanied by children, he doesn’t usually complain.  Much. 

You won’t find any spoilers here (though, come on, it’s a Disney film; if you can’t tell where it’s going from the commercials alone, you’ll get it in the first fifteen minutes or so), but for those of you who aren’t familiar with the movie, let me give you the basic synopsis:  Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner –who I loved in Alias—and Joel Edgerton) are trying to adopt a child because they’ve been unable to have their own.  The story is told in primarily a flashback sequence as they try to convince the adoption officials that they’ll be good parents.  To prove their case, they tell the tale of Timothy.

Timothy (relative newcomer CJ Adams) came into their lives the night their fertility doctor had finally told them they had to give up, sprung up miraculously in the middle of the night, grown from all of the dream characteristics they had for their never-to-be-born child.  So, yeah, you have to suspend the disbelief pretty much right off the bat, even more so as the tale continues and they never really have to explain Timothy’s presence.  Just let it go.

And, if showing up fully formed—well, as formed as a 10 year old can be—isn’t unusual enough for you, it doesn’t take the new parents long to notice that their unexpected son has leaves growing from his legs.  Yes, leaves.  But don’t bail out on me now.  From this odd set of circumstances grows a lovely story of individuality, friendship, family, and love. 

Timothy has been thrust into a family like any other; it’s got some tension.  Cindy has a subtle but long-standing rivalry with her sister, Brenda (Rosemarie DeWitt).  Jim has deep-seated confidence problems stemming from a disapproving father (David Morse).  Both the Greens work for members of the town’s snooty founding family, the Crudstaffs, leading to various types of occupational stress.  And, like any birth, having a new child around begins to illuminate these problems.  Not to mention that Jim and Cindy are trying to learn how to be parents to a pre-teen newborn. 

Garner and Edgerton do a good job as the loving, if sometimes clueless, parents.  The supporting cast is good, too, though they seem to get short-shrift, especially the Crudstaff family, portrayed by Dianne Wiest, Ron Livingston, and James Rebhorn (he’s most recently in White Collar, so you know I’m always glad to see him!).  We don’t see them nearly enough.  In fact, my major complaint about this movie is that the characters and the relationships aren’t quite developed enough.  Instead, we see just glimpses of of what could be, and get the broad-strokes of how the relationships have formed the characters that we see today.  Even though the movie is two hours long (125 minutes, to be precise), it seems like it could’ve used a bit more time.  Though, of course, remember that the vast majority of the audience probably doesn’t have an attention span much longer than that, nor are they probably interested in too much character back-story, so I guess it’s understandable. 

The one place that the whole less-is-more idea really works, though, is in the relationship between Timothy and his older girlfriend, Joni (Odeya Rush).  Finding each other through mutual childhood isolation, they become best of friends, accepting each other without question, and creating a world all their own.  Really, it’s pretty beautiful.

So, to sum up:  If you’re looking for edge of your seat pacing, you’re in the wrong place.  And if you want intricately plotted suspense, you can probably skip it.  But if you’re looking for just a touch of the old Disney magic, then load up the family (even if it’s just adults) and go.  This movie will make you laugh, though not in a riotous, side-splitting way.  And it’ll make you cry, though not a lot—just enough.  Mostly, though, in true Disney fashion, it will make you feel good.  And I always think that’s worth the price of admission.

If you’ve seen this movie, what did you think?  And if you haven’t, do you plan to?