The Odd Life of Timothy Green is very odd indeed
Starring Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton. Rated G.
The oddest thing about The Odd Life of Timothy Green is that it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Working from a story by Ahmet Zappa—yes, the son of Frank—writer-director Peter Hedges keeps the uneven tone he set for his previous efforts, Pieces of April and Dan in Real Life. (He fared better writing for other directors in About a Boy and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.)
In this Life, we meet a rural Pennsylvania couple desperate to have a kid rattling around their gigantic, well-appointed farmhouse. Jim and Cindy Green (Aussie Joel Edgerton, struggling with his accent, and Jennifer Garner, forever holding back tears) have tried the conventional methods and are now at a highfalutin adoption agency, which means the entire movie is tediously framed by their explanation—awkward digressions and all—of events that brought a miraculous being into their lives.
Apparently, stuffing a wish list of desirable traits into a box and burying it in the garden can yield a cute, almost 10-year-old boy, given the right dark and stormy night. As the self-named sprog of the title, round-faced C J Adams comes off a bit smug, although the filmmakers certainly wanted him to be a wise Earth child, spreading his leaves, er, arms, in the morning sun.
The effect has less chlorophyll than chloroform, unfortunately. Where everyone could be experiencing the world through new, unacculturated eyes, we get unexpectedly morose developments, lots of silly movie moments—one dumb music recital stands out—and creepy class conflict, with the Greens resentfully kowtowing to their betters at the local pencil factory (seriously) and the adoption house. There’s the seed of an interesting idea here, but somebody used too much fertilizer.
Watch the trailer for The Odd Life of Timothy Green.