You’d think a film based on a story written by Frank Zappa’s son (Ahmet) about a little boy with leaves on his legs who crawls out of the garden would be way creepier or fun than the resulting effort, The Odd Life of Timothy Green. But then, the film was produced by Disney Pictures so what might have been a dark, Tim Burton-esque fable has turned into a case of whimsy gone seriously wrong.
Joel Edgerton (yum) and Jennifer Garner (yawn) play a childless couple named Cindy and Jim who’ve just found out that they’ve exhausted all of their options for having a biological kid. In the depths of despair, the two return to their quaint farmhouse in Stanleyville (pencil capital of the USA – where’s David Lynch and his take on small town life when you need him?) and proceed to drink and write out a list of traits their ideal child would possess which they then bury in their backyard. That night, a storm rips through their property bringing with it a little boy who emerges from the ground, ready to fulfill all of those parental wishes and desires. Timothy (CJ Adams) is perfect in every way except that he has leaves growing out of his legs that make it necessary for him to wear long socks at all times lest the Stanleyville citizens mark him as a weirdo — nice life lesson there, Jim and Cindy. As we soon learn, those leaves…and Timothy himself, are not meant to be in Jim and Cindy’s lives indefinitely.
While The Odd Life of Timothy Green is certainly agreeable enough to appeal to both kids and parents alike, its vanilla/Disney-fied approach to the material is at odds with the aspects that make the film truly unique. Director/co-writer Peter Hedges does his best to infuse the film with a sense of magical realism but in the end, it feels neither magic nor particularly real. The seeds of a memorable film are there, it’s just too bad that they weren’t cultivated properly.
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