Review of The Odd Life off Timothy Green, starring Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton
A gentle mix of magic and family comedy make Peter Hedges’ The Odd Life of Timothy Green a likable fantasy
The summer’s biggest surprise is writer/director Peter Hedges’ gentle family comedy The Odd Life of Timothy Green, a modern-day fairy tale that fails to fit neatly in the popular summertime genres of superhero adventures and slapstick comedies. By gently folding melodrama about a childless couple’s desires to start a family with a fairy tale about a young boy who magically sprouts from their backyard garden, Hedges sets out to try something new and a little bit risky.
Timothy Green is about the idea of true magic entering one’s life, that is, if you are willing to accept it, sugary sentimentality and all.
Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton) are blissfully married but desperate to start a family in their small town of Stanleyville.
Heartbroken by setbacks, everything changes for the couple when a young boy named Timothy (CJ Adams) shows up at their doorstep wet from a recent thunderstorm and covered in mud. The bright green leaves growing from Timothy’s ankles tell Cindy and Jim that Timothy is a boy like no other. Facing questions from their relatives and the townspeople, Cindy and Jim quickly learn that parenthood involves standing up for one’s child no matter odd he may seem to others.
Hedges builds upon his strong storytelling skills as the writer of standout dramas What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? and About a Boy as well as the writer/director of the comedies Dan in Real Life and Pieces of April.
Pieces of April, Hedges’ 2003 indie comedy starring Katie Holmes, is a personal favorite but there are plenty of sweet moments throughout Timothy Green, all brought to life by Ahmet Zappa’s original story and the film’s impressive ensemble cast, especially Dianne Wiest as Cindy’s mean boss and David Morse as Jim’s distant father.
Actor Joel Edgerton has a full list of acting jobs including a role in director Katheryn Bigelow’s upcoming action drama Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden by Navy Seal Team 6, and the role of Tom Buchanan in director Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.
Edgerton, last seen in the action drama Warrior and best known for the Australian crime drama Animal Kingdom, is one of the next wave of leading men who appears to be in the running for every major action role competing against the likes of Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth and Garrett Hedlund.
Still, it’s great to see Edgerton tackle a sweet and innocent role like Timothy Green and he’s pitch perfect throughout as the flustered father who comes to grips with the fairy tale origins of his unexpected son.
I still tend to think of Jennifer Garner as a female action star from her days as Sydney Bristow in the TV spy show Alias but she also makes a warm and believable mom.
CJ Adams, who worked with Hedges on Dan in Real Life, helps keep the fantasy somewhat grounded as the wide-eyed Timothy.
In fact, during the frequent occasions when Timothy Greens appears to be leaning towards hammy, sugary sweet sentimentality, Adams, Garner and Edgerton help pull the film back to the area of somewhat believable drama.
In the film’s best moments, laughter and sweetness fold together perfectly at a kids’ soccer game and an impromptu concert by Timothy and his parents in front of Cindy’s disapproving and somewhat competitive sister (Rosemarie DeWitt from Mad Men).
These are funny, honest moments parents and their kids can instantly relate to and understand; not something one can say about most summer movies.
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Cast: Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, CJ Adams, Ron Livingston, Dianne Wiest, Odeya Rush, Rosemarie DeWitt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, M. Emmet Walsh, Lois Smith, David Morse and Common
Director: Peter Hedges
Cinematographer: John Toll
Editor: Andrew Mondshein
Producers: Monsterfoot Productions, Scott Sanders Productions and Walt Disney Pictures
Running Time: 104 minutes
Rating: Rated PG
Release Date: August 15, 2012