out of Five
Running time: 104
Relentlessly mawkish wish-fulfilment fantasy drama that fails to engage on any meaningful level, to the point where you end up feeling sorry for the actors.
What's it all about?
Directed by Peter Hedges (whose name perhaps drew him to the project in the first place), The Odd Life of Timothy Green stars Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton as Cindy and Jim Green, a suburban couple who are devastated when their doctor informs them they are unable to have children. That night, they bury a wish list of attributes for their never-to-be-born child in a box in their back garden, only for their perfect child (C.J. Adams) to literally sprout up overnight (aged 10) after a presumably magical thunderstorm.
Naming the child Timothy, the Greens attempt to pass him off as their adopted son, although the dozen or so leaves sprouting from Timothy's legs present something of a problem. Meanwhile, Timothy sets about improving the lives of everyone around him, healing rifts between estranged family members (Rosemarie DeWitt as Cindy's sister, David Morse as Jim's father), falling for lonely schoolgirl Joni (Odeya
Rush) and even helping Jim invent an eco-friendly pencil made from leaves that could save the town's pencil factory. However, each time Timothy does a good deed, one of his leaves falls off, leading his concerned parents to wonder what that might mean.
Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton do their best under the circumstances, but the script is so sickly sweet that you wonder how they can get through their lines without vomiting. To be fair, C.J. Adams does a decent job as a sort of modern-day Pinocchio, but the film pretty much wastes solid character actors like Dianne Weist (as a town busybody), Rosemarie DeWitt and David Morse.
The film is also hampered by a poorly conceived framing device, with Cindy and Jim telling their story to an understandably sceptical adoption agency official (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and asking her to believe them, when the only sane response to such a story would be to have them both sectioned.
The relentless mawkishness of the film quickly becomes unbearable and is made worse by being played entirely straight; there's actually surprisingly little humour in the film. What's more frustrating is that the script has the potential for a more serious point about obsessive parenting, but the filmmakers completely ignore that idea.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a disappointing and painfully mawkish fantasy drama that never convinces on an emotional level. One to avoid.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green (U)