Without Further AdoSo. Jim and Cindy Green (Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner) are a young couple who work at an old-timey pencil factory in the sleepy, small town of Stanleyville. They tell a strange and remarkable tale to the skeptical supervisor at an adoption agency (Shohreh Aghdashloo).
They tried desperately for years to have a child of their own, but after exhausting every known medical solution, the doctors finally advised them to call it quits.
While seeking to lay their grief to rest, they'd creatively brainstormed about the qualities their imaginary child would have had, and wrote them down. "He'll have Uncle Bub's sense of humor!" "He'll be a glass-half-full kid!" "He'll score the winning goal!" They wrote down 54 girl names—and one boy name. As a ritual to help them move on, they'd collected their notes, put them in a wooden box, and buried it in the garden. Perhaps "planted" would be a more accurate term.
The wind kicked up, there was a brief torrential rain, and suddenly … there was a young boy named Timothy, covered in wet mud, in their house (CJ Adams). He had strange green leaves growing on his legs. The skeptical adoption supervisor leans forward in anticipation. What was that one boy name on the list?
Timothy appeared to have all of the qualities that the Greens had planted in the garden, but he was also a bit of a strange one, this Timothy. When they tried to snip his leg-leaves off, the steel hedge clippers broke. Timothy was sweet and funny. He was completely awful at soccer, but he did score a winning goal.
He went to school and endured bullying. He also won approval from the aloof older girl whom all the other boys were enamored of. Mom Cindy had been suspicious of the ensuing puppy love at first. (Timothy, of course, got occasional bad advice from his brand-new, overzealous parents.)
A joyous family life developed. Then one day Uncle Bub died, and one of Timothy's leaves turned brown and fell off. And they kept coming off, here and there, until it became clear that when they were all gone, so might Timothy be.
PerformancesCJ Adams as Timothy is adorable—it was very much a star-is-born performance. I was sure we'd be seeing a lot more of this kid, and sure enough, he's done eight movies to date. Let's see what he can do in the next phase of his acting career. Jennifer Garner fulfills the mom role well (naturally) and Aussie Joel Edgerton, who'd played an excellent dad in "Warrior," plays the kind of dad every kid would want.
The Israeli-born Odeya Rush is mesmerizing as Joni, the girl Timothy falls for. Boys everywhere will remember having, or having had, a crush on a girl like her in grade school. She teaches Timothy to accept his odd leafy-ness. I thought at the time that her portrayal of Joni was probably also a star-is-born performance, and she's done 27 movies, but she hasn't had a breakout hit yet.
At times threatening to trip and fall into the treacle vat, "Timothy" drips with all-American small-town quaintness and nostalgia, but mostly in a positive way. From the birthday parties, family gatherings, town hall meetings, and soccer games, right down to Joni's Stingray bike, it's an inspiring, magical fairy tale.
The film that ”The Odd Life of Timothy Green” most resembles, however, is the similarly titled “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” While that film was dark and mystical with ever-so-slightly creepy CGI, and meant for adults, Hedges directs this cinematic fable with more lightness and magic, for kids. But in dealing with issues of mortality and child adoption, it’s not just for kids—it's a movie for parents too. Disney, when Disney is good, is good stuff. In terms of family fare these days, you really can’t go wrong with this one.