Film Review: The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Sappy family drama never overcomes its peculiar fantasy premise.

Finding out that the soundtrack for The Odd Life of Timothy Green comes with 24 songs may be a bit of a shock to anyone who’s actually sat through it. That’s because throughout its 100-minute running time, the same poignant theme intrudes so much, it seems as if you’re dealing with a mosquito that won’t quit buzzing around your ears. Even when maestro Geoff Zanelli comes up with different versions, it never gets any easier on the ear.

That tune’s a good fit in a movie like this, given how many times it mistakes cheesiness for charm. Never mind that it’s a family movie—there’s no excuse for making a film as goofy as it is soulless. Your kids probably won’t like it any more than you will.

The fact that the title character’s (CJ Adams) a kid too won’t help. Actually, he’s the dream child of Cindy (Jennifer Garner) and Jim (Joel Edgerton)—literally. When they find out they aren’t able to have children, they’re unwilling to let go of their dream of raising a family and spend one last night thinking about the son they always wanted. In fact, Jim breaks out a pencil and notebook to keep track of their thoughts. He’d “love and be loved,” be a “Picasso with a pencil,” would “never give up,” be “a glass half-full person,” etc.

Afterward, they take the pages and bury them in the yard, only to find that a storm’s caused a boy to grow there with the other plants. That’d explain those leaves growing out of his legs.
This is old news by the beginning of the movie, which finds Cindy and Jim making their case to representatives (Shohreh Aghdashloo and Michael Arden) from an adoption agency through flashbacks explaining how Timothy made them good parents. They look on with pride as he plays the field with his soccer team, puts smiles on the faces of relatives, and learns about love with a schoolmate (Odeya Rush). It figures a child who came out of the dirt would have a way of growing on people.

Seeing most of the cast members investing energy in their roles (only Common disappoints as Timothy’s coach) makes watching them endure such material all the more arduous. There may actually be more horselaughs here than real laughs, like whenever Jim’s dad (David Morse) goes out of his way to show up on the sidelines of the soccer field just to leer and stalk over and over again, or the part where Timothy draws Cindy’s boss (Dianne Wiest)—faster than you can say, “Draw me like one of your French girls,” he’s unpinning her hair and doing her portrait while the camera studies her in an arc shot. After something that painful, the last thing this film needs is an a capella version of “Low Rider.” Don’t ask.