The Odd Movie Review of “Timothy Green”

17 Aug

What’s the point of giving a bad review to The Odd Life of Timothy Green — or of even reviewing it at all?

This is one of those critic-proof, middle-of-the-road movies that arrives in theaters just as quickly and quietly as it will disappear. It has no intention of being a blockbuster (no chance, really), and no great ambitions other than being an audience-pleasing film you can bring your family to.

At that, Timothy Green succeeds. Sort of.

The film is a fairy tale — not for kids, but for childless parents who want nothing more than a perfect little one of their own, and need a little hope.

It tells the sweet story of a couple, Jim and Cindy (Joel Edgerton and the lovely Jennifer Garner), who learn that they are unable to have children. One night, frustrated, they begin writing down all the attributes they wish a child of theirs would have. They put the pieces of paper in a box and bury it in the garden outside.

Following a magical rainstorm, a little boy shows up claiming to be their son and from the garden. It’s Timothy (C.J. Adams), and though he has leaves around his ankles, he appears to be everything Jim and Cindy dreamed of.

Timothy, of course, charms the pants off everyone in town, including a cranky older woman played by Dianne Wiest, who actually gets to utter this stomach-churning line of dialogue late in the film: “I want to see the leaves!”

And he teaches Jim and Cindy some important lessons about parenthood too — I think. They don’t really seem all that different at the end of the film than at the beginning.

It’s been six years since Alias went off the air — too long, really — and in that time, Garner looks like she’s settled nicely into a more domestic existence with hubby Ben Affleck and their three children. Here, she gets a role that suits that new life, and not surprisingly, she gives a performance that feels utterly natural.

Garner is likeable and easy to watch (Edgerton, too, for the record), but she’s not so likeable that we’re willing to overlook the often cloying aspects of the film.

Timothy Green asks you to buy in to a fantastical premise, and you can for some of the film, but with its predictable storyline, treacly score, and lines of dialogue like the one referenced above, eventually this magic boy story gets to be a little much.

What might have made the film more interesting — or at least more fun — would have been a little more Lin-Manuel Miranda. The Tony Award–winning actor appears in a small role as a gardener, and he provides a spark that the movie could have used more of. Oh well.

At least there’s a great Glen Hansard song (is there any other kind?) playing over the end credits.

To be clear, Timothy Green, which was written and directed by Peter Hedges (Dan in Real Life) is not an entirely bad movie. It’s a nice, family-friendly film from Disney, the company that knows a thing or two about family films. It’s not threatening, scary, or unpleasant in any way, though it may raise some questions for or traumatize young children who take it all a bit literally.

Really, this is the kind of film you’ll more likely come across on TV some lazy afternoon and watch than the kind you’ll be rushing out to a movie theater to see.

You’ll probably have to see it on TV anyway because chances are good Timothy Green will be gone from theaters before you even have a chance to see it there.

I’m giving the film a C+.

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