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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

REVIEW: The Odd Life of Timothy Green

MOVIE
The Odd Life of Timothy Green

CAST
Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton

RATING
PG

RELEASE
August 15, 2012

DIRECTOR
Peter Hedges

STUDIO
Disney

RUNNING TIME
1 hour 45 minutes






STARS
***








REVIEW:

It seems that Disney isn't having the greatest of years in terms of popularity. While I enjoyed all of their other films to have come out this year, ('The Secret World of Arrietty,' 'John Carter,' and 'Brave') audiences didn't fall into Disney's spell that is usually enchanting and grabbing whenever something comes out. Their latest effort, 'The Odd Life of Timothy Green,' is their weakest film of the year so far, though that isn't saying the movie is bad. Actually, this movie is charming, heartwarming, and funny at times. Other times, it plays like a Disney movie that would have come out in the 1990's rather than something entirely new. Still though, 'Timothy Green' is a fine movie that families will definitely enjoy watching together.

Cindy and Jim Green are a happily married couple who want to have a kid of their own. Their one dilemma is that they are unable to conceive a child, which sends them into a pit of sadness. Instead they decide to dream up what is essentially their perfect child. Then they bury their thoughts of the perfect kid in Cindy's garden in the background, and try to move on with their lives. However it was on this night that magic took the ideas in that box, and created Timothy, who is found by Cindy and Jim covered in dirt and in what was Timothy is no ordinary kid by any means. Not only does he possess every trait of the Green's perfect child, but he also has leaves sprouting out of his legs. Much more is explained as the rest of the movie goes on.

This is the first time in a film I've seen where Jennifer Garner did not play an unlikable character. For some reason, there's something I have with Garner where either A.) her character was designed to be antagonistic, or B.) I just don't like her characters in general. Her only crime in this film is wanting what's best for young Timothy, and to that I give Garner a thumbs up. Not only was she funny and charming in the film, but her character also felt very real, while feeling like a typical "Disney" mom at the same time. Joel Edgerton was also very likable as Garner's husband and the father figure of the story. The chemistry between these two actors, especially in the scene where they're writing the ideas of their perfect kid, was so sweet and charming to watch, that it couldn't help make everyone in my screening laugh, or at least smile to say the least. However the real star of the show, and the best part of the film, is CJ Adams' performance as young Timothy.

Timothy isn't your ordinary Disney title character. Every trait that Cindy and Jim write down to create Timothy, including "honest to a fault" and "as funny as Uncle Bub" are all presented throughout the duration of the movie. He is a strange and likable kid who happens to come from the ground and sprouts leaves from his legs. Speaking of those leaves, there's a reason why Timothy has those leaves growing from his legs However the reasoning is never fully explained until the end despite some very huge hints that are shown during the middle of the movie. I've said this a lot before with a bunch of these kid actors, but CJ Adams can go places after this film. He has a charismatic charm to himself, and throughout the film he is sweet and funny. Who knows if Adams will get work after this movie, but he sure does deserve it if he gets roles in more films. The three leads are all great in the movie. As for the supporting cast, they were good for what they were given. But it wasn't their performances that weakened the film, it was their character development that did the trick.

*SPOILER ALERT* 
The strange thing about every supporting character whose lives are "changed" by Timothy is that they're all (except for one character) left underdeveloped when the movie ends. For example, Dianne Weist plays the grumpy old boss of Jennifer Garner's character. When Timothy first meets her, he says that he can draw a great picture of her, and of course 5 minutes later he gets every trait of her perfectly, even the imperfections. However Timothy tells Cindy to tell the truth about her feelings to the boss, which leads to her getting fired. Next time you see Weist, she has apparently forgiven the mother and daughter without any reason at all. Then Timothy gives Weist one of his leaves at the end of the film. An unexplained forgiveness from many other characters other than the young girl whom Timothy has a crush on and Uncle Bub ensues, and it just leaves the viewer saying "what the heck." In fact all the supporting characters, other than the young girl who becomes the crush of Timothy, feel very one dimensional and left without an ending, which took me out of the film. A generic Disney story could at least tie up all of the stories presented in its film.
*END OF SPOILER*

'The Odd Life of Timothy Green' isn't anything we haven't seen before in a family film. This film has a decent story, a predictable ending, and likable characters. However the script doesn't fully develop the supporting characters, and the outcome of certain things are very predictable by the time one gets to the 45 minute mark. I also found the fact that they tell the story in a flashback setting to basically say that something happens to Timothy before you even get to know him. CJ Adams however was the best part of the film, because his weirdness and charm help carry the movie despite its flaws. This movie is harmless to take the kids (over age 8) to during a late afternoon on a weekend. Nobody has to rush to see this film, but if they actually go to see it they will enjoy the film for what it is. 'The Odd Life of Timothy Green' is probably Disney's best family oriented live-action film since 'The Muppets,' even though that really isn't saying a whole lot.




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