A small-town husband and wife, desperate to have a child, are surprised one stormy night to find a ten-year-old boy who has grown up out of the ground in their vegetable patch, with leaves on his legs – Timothy Green, a kid who’s purpose is to help spread a little joy in this warm, touching and surprisingly well written Disney movie.
The story is told in flashback by a couple, Jim and Cindy Green (Joel Edgerton & Jennifer Garner), to a hearing officer for a government adoption agency. The Greens then tell of the night, after their doctor has informed them that they will be unable to have a baby (in a montage reminiscent of the opening scenes of “Up”), when they pop open a bottle of wine and write down all the perfect attributes they would want in a child. They take those written notes, put them in a wooden box, and bury the box in Cindy’s garden. One magical thunderstorm later, a mud-covered 10-year-old boy named Timothy (CJ Adams, a real charmer) shows up in their house — and there’s a hole in the garden…
As the Greens introduce Timothy to the world, we learn of all the stresses in the couple’s lives. They include Jim’s issues with his stern father, Cindy’s dealings with her hyper-competitive super-mom sister, and the impending closure of the pencil factory where Jim works. It’s not giving away too much in a movie like this to say that Timothy, just by his preternaturally good-hearted existence, comes to help solve all these problems and teach us all some valuable life lessons along the way like: It’s okay to be different, and: Love and be loved while you can, because nothing is forever.
Sure “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is overly sugary and sentimental, but director Peter Hedges keeps it grounded, particularly with solid performances by Garner and Edgerton, as well as a great supporting turn by Dianne Wiest as the matriarch of the town’s pencil factory. Hedges also creates some beautiful moments, like the colourful leaf sculptures Timothy and his crush Joni create in the forest.
“The Odd Life of Timothy Green” gets a tad bittersweet in its finale, but it’s Disney schmaltz of the highest order. By the end, the movie grows on you.
(Images courtesy Disney, IMDb, Collider)