Infertility does not jump out as a topic that Disney studios would make a film about. But once you see The Odd Life of Timothy Green directed by Peter Hedges (Pieces of April, Dan in Real Life) it will all make sense. Instead of this being a down and depressing film (though there are some sad moments) this is a heartwarming and magical film. Right up Disney’s alley.
A young couple are in an office telling a man and a very official looking woman (Shohreh Aghdashloo – House of Sand and Fog, The Lake House) why they should be allowed to adopt a child. They only have an allotted amount of time and the story they tell is not your usual one.
Being dealt the painful blow that they will never be able to have their own children, Cindy (Jennifer Garner – 13 Going On 30, The Kingdom) and Jim (Joel Edgerton – Animal Kingdom, Warrior) Green are understandably broken hearted. That evening over some wine, to console themselves, they write down on slips of paper all the attributes their child would have. From being funny, athletic and musical they go through the whole gamut. Taking the pieces of paper they put them in a wooden box then bury that box in Cindy’s large garden at the side of their house.
That evening there is a big storm though it seems like it is quite localized. So localized that it is only over the Greens’ house. Jim is awoken by it and goes downstairs. Much to his surprise he finds a very muddy young boy in his kitchen. He wakes up Cindy and they start asking the young boy some questions. You could knock them over with a feather when he tells them he is Timothy (CJ Adams – Dan in Real Life) and he is their son.
Cindy and Jim, after an adjustment period, begin to realize that nine-year-old Timothy is the product of their wish box filled with the attributes they wanted their child to have. Timothy is a perfectly normal young boy except for the fact that he has some green leaves growing out of his shins. Ecstatic that they finally have a child they just put socks on Timothy and begin learning about being parents. Needless to say, due to his unusual appearance in their lives the Greens are not going to be your typical family.
Disney has put plenty of fairytales up on the big screen. The Odd Life of Timothy Green is another fairytale, but this time it is one that is appropriate for young and old. Like most fairytales the viewer is expected to suspend belief to make the film work. Not an unusual amount, just enough to get all wrapped up in the story. This is made an easier task due to the cuteness of CJ Adams in the role of Timothy. This freckled ginger is cute and innocent looking, so he is easy to like.
The story itself if quite manipulative in that it wants you to adore this cutie, feel for the infertile Cindy and Jim and will try throughout its a little too long 2 hours and 5 minutes of running time to tug at your heartstrings. What I did like about it was its message about the importance of time. Whether it is in the offices of the government adoption agency or in regards to the time they have with Timothy, time is shown to be important and that we must make the most of every moment we have been given. Again not your usual Disney topic, but it is done in an impactful manner.
Raising an adoptive child (or any child, for that matter) is a difficult thing. This film addresses that and shows that most parental mistakes are made due to trying too hard to be perfect and protective. Ahmet Zappa’s (Frank Zappa’s son) first script shows how oftentimes parents can learn everything they need to know about parenting from their kids.