Starring Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, CJ Adams and Rosemarie DeWitt. Written by Peter Hedges and Ahmet Zappa. Directed by Peter Hedges. Produced by John Cameron, Mara Jacobs, Scott Sanders, James Whitaker and Ahmet Zappa.
There are some stories that just don't make great movies, and The Odd Life of Timothy Green is one of them. The story, which centers around a couple struggling to have children, feels cold considering the subject matter – and because the viewer isn't capable of actually experience the emotional complexity of their particular situation. Something that could be easily described in a book, like what the characters are feeling and what they're thinking, isn't easily translated to film – something that is vital to this story.
What begins as a cute story about a couple who imagines their ideal child, only to watch him spring up out of the ground one day, turns into a depressing story about the detrimentally controlling nature of parents. Jim (Edgerton) and Cindy (Garner) have been desperately attempting to have a child for years and together compile a list of all the traits they'd want their child to possess – "He'd be Picasso with a Pencil" or a "glass half-full person." And – POOF – when Timothy (Adams) appears, he is all of these things! But when it doesn't go over well with his peers or their parents, who all find him odd, Jim and Cindy do what any parents would do and decide to change him regardless of his happiness. They force him to play soccer and make him act 'normal' for the relatives.
The story is a nice representation and commentary on parenting and raises plenty of questions about where to draw the line as far as dictating what your child does. The plot, however, is boring and it feels like we are getting the most shallow representation of the story and characters. Cindy and Jim come off as blank, and Timothy isn't developed into anything more than a caricature. This causes some problems when we're supposed to be emotionally moved by the outcome – yet aren't. This is most apparent in an awkward anti-climactic scene remniscent of the pageant scene in Little Miss Sunshine, where Jim and Cindy jump on stage to dance and play to "Lowrider" with Timothy because he's being ridiculed at a kids' concert.
The film definitely has its charming moments, but would have benefited from some more genuine child-parent interaction. —Rebecca Hillary