How the Garden Grows—The Odd Life of Timothy Green


If in vitro or adoption doesn’t work out, maybe you can bury your dreams in the ground and hope a child sprouts up. In a Disney world, that’s not just absurd. It’s totally possible.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green, written and directed by Peter Hedges (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, About a Boy, Pieces of April), is the latest feel-good family film with a rehashed premise. Quirky kid invades small town and shows people how to care.

Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton) live in Stanleyville, where the main attraction is a struggling pencil factory. After trying everything possible to get pregnant, the couple is told by their doctor that there’s nothing more they can do.

In a night of one last hurrah, the couple brainstorms about what their child could-have, would-have been. A storm comes and by the end of it, Timothy (CJ Adams) emerges from the mud—a child that appears to be the answer to their wishes. He is pre-programmed to call them mom and dad. And besides the leaves growing out of his legs and his tendency to raise his arms up towards the sun, he’s perfectly normal.

Timothy interacts with and surprises many folks in town, including a goth-like girl at school (Odeya Rush), an overly critical soccer coach (Common), and Cindy’s judgmental sister (Rosemarie DeWitt). Timothy’s ultimate purpose, however, is to prepare Cindy and Jim for parenthood.

The film seemingly has many elements for success (writer/director with an impressive history of heartfelt movies, good actors, plenty of moments that try to get you to invest in the characters), but it falls short overall. I kept trying to like it, but the chemistry was forced and the storyline wasn’t strong enough.

But if your taste for standard family flicks is less demanding and you want a good-enough option for a Netflix night, then this will do.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green opens in theaters Wednesday, August 15.

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