It’s not exactly Modern Family, but I suppose it’s the closest a major studio is going to get this year for a slightly funny and somewhat dramatic family comedy that makes you think about growing up and being yourself. The Odd Life of Timothy Green chronicles the short, but curious existence of a boy bred from wishes and dirt, taken up by a pair of bumbling parents that are sorely in need of some lessons.
Charming and cute, though certainly not adventurous, Timothy Green seems quite content with simply expressing the idea that none of us are perfect and we should be ourselves. And maybe proud. Dejected with their inability to conceive, area parents Cindy and Jim, living in any-town USA (he’s a factory worker, she guides tourists around a most mundane local museum), the couple imagine their ideal child over a bottle of red.
Thunderstorms ensue, or rather just one–solely over their house–with rain occasionally falling up for reasons passing understanding, and the ground is shaken. Out arises Timmy (CJ Adams), with his dirty, leave-adorned feet (the dirt washes away, the leaves though, cannot be removed, despite some efforts).
Elated and confused, excited and completely lost, the little parents that could take in Timothy and attempt to take care of him while, as you would guess, he is actually taking care of them.
While Timothy meets the family, goes to school, and captures the eye of one curious girl (pixie, but not manic), it is how the parents react that is far more curious than anything Timothy does. Played by a very welcomed Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton, both actors who somehow just ooze parenthood, the two try to deal with explaining the weirdness that is Timothy.
The two are simultaneously endearing and pathetic, but strangely true to life. When drinking that magical night, they offer aloud and with no shame those lofty ideals that they seek in a child. They too want to protect him: from being ostracized, from being hurt, and from anything they don’t know—and boy, they don’t know a lot. They don’t act so much as react, he against his cold, competitive father, and she against her ice-queen of a rich, snooty boss.
There could be an analogy, if you really want it. Timothy is strange upon meeting: sociable and easily content, he doesn’t shy away from introducing himself to strangers, or failing miserably at sports. So, in turn, Cindy and Jim offer explanations, or rather excuses, for their son for being different.
So I suppose the movie could be related to more current situations where parents are concerned about their child being different. Timothy is being raised in very small-town America, with some very small town-America looking people, so extrapolating a curious arboreal lad to a big city, maybe you get something that is more pressing in the news today—but this is a family film, so let’s not discuss that here.
But a parable it is. Predictable yes, but we are not meant to be challenged here. There is no attempt to fool the audience, but instead we are taken them on a journey—an occasionally meandering one—but an interesting one nonetheless, exploring the very commonplace struggles of family and friends that try to live up to the standards of others while protecting the ones they love.