When I was asked to go see The Odd Life of Timothy Green Thursday night, my first thought was “yeah, it looks cute.” I wasn’t dying to see it. It just looked like a cute little family movie.
It was so much more.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green is the story about a young couple, Cindy (played by Jennifer Garner) and Jim Green (played by Joel Edgarton) who learn that they are unable to have children. Grieving, they spend a night talking and writing down every detail about what “their” kid would have been like. They take their pile of notes, stack them together and ceremoniously place them into a box and bury it in their garden. But something strange happens, a sort of magic. From the ground Timothy Green is born (played by CJ Adams) and all of a sudden Jim and Cindy’s dream comes true: they are finally parents. Timothy’s sudden arrival is explained to the Green’s family and the people of their small town as a an adoption that finally went through. And, like all fantastical stories, Timothy has a secret and a unique ability to touch the lives of those around him.
Thought the movie is very predictable, it is for the most part well written. Focused on Cindy and Jim’s new life as the parents of Timothy Green, the story evokes heart and the emotional truth that all parents feel inadequate from time to time. My one critique is that not enough time is spent explaining where and how Timothy came to be and his purpose. The audience is left to deduce that Timothy has come to help Cindy and Jim find their footing in life when their world is shattered, but is his origin magic? Is it mother nature? What is it?
The great thing is that the actors do a pretty good job masking the areas of the story where the writing leaves predictability and unanswered questions. Jennifer Garner’s “Cindy” is a sweet, very likable woman struggling to be the perfect mother. She has waited her entire life for this opportunity and when she thinks it’s impossible, the impossible happens. Ms. Garner plays Cindy with ease, which is no surprise as she has played this character before – think Juno.
Joel Edgarton, much like Ms. Garner, also plays his role well. Jim’s biggest challenge is that he wants to be a great dad, unlike his own father who was absent in much of Jim’s childhood (Does it seem like all family movie dads are trying to overcome their issues with their own fathers?). Mr. Edgarton, too, is likable and though I haven’t seen him in anything else before, he has this lovely familiarity about him.
CJ Adams is truly the star of the movie. While Cindy and Jim continuously fuss and worry over Timothy, desperately trying to make him seem like a “normal” kid, Adam’s “Timothy” stays true to himself while touching each life in which he comes into contact. Timothy’s odd behavior when the sun comes out from behind the clouds and his straight faced jokes are all part of how Adams makes Timothy so charming. Not to mention that his honest-to-a-fault personality manages to bring down even the toughest facades that he comes in contact with, especially those of “Joni” and “Ms. Crudstaff.”
So, it seems that what I’ve said so far describes a movie of really just so-so caliber. Thus, I’ve spent much of today thinking about it. What was it about this little family movie that resonated with me? Why did it bring tears to my eyes?
Simple. I can relate to Jim and Cindy’s situation. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if I was told I couldn’t have children. I am so grateful to be blessed with two healthy boys, so to suffer such an enormous loss is unfathomable. I also understand how insecure becoming a parent makes you feel. Every decision that a parent makes molds this little person’s character and ability to make good choices. Parents are judged by other parents based on their kids behavior. So, when you’re kid does something out of the “norm” all of a sudden, all eyes are on you. It’s a lot a pressure!
At the same time, as I’m relating to what Jim and Cindy are going through, I’m inspired by the being that is Timothy Green. Timothy brings hope to a couple who had all but given up and he inspires them to be more than what they have become. Timothy resurrects the idea that there is more to life than winning soccer championships and getting a 4.0 GPA in preparation for college. He reminds us that our time here is limited and that it’s important to spend that time not only doing what we love, but also spending it with those we love.
Thanks for the reminder Timothy Green.