As harmless as a veggie sandwich but only as satisfying as one, The Odd Life of Timothy Green is about a sterile couple who accidentally grow a veggie boy in their garden to raise as their own. The movie could easily be a horror film, but it's actually a feel-good family film. Odd indeed.
Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton star as the bland couple who "make a wish" one night after discovering they can't get pregnant. That night, a freak rainstorm causes a boy (played by CJ Adams) to rise from their garden. He has leaves growing from his ankles, and he's terrible at sports, but he's their kid. They set out to make the most of it.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green is an earnest little movie that's as wholesome as they come. It's fun the family can watch together. Whether they would want to is another story.
The movie's primary problem is that it lacks conflict. The kid shows up, stuff happens, things end happily ever after. Writer/director Peter Hedges (What's Eating Gilbert Grape, About a Boy), working off a story by Ahmet Zappa, attempts to insert conflict into the story, but every attempt is forced. Jim (Edgerton) has a strained relationship with his dad, so he tries not to make the same mistakes with his new son. He also works at a pencil factory that is struggling to stay afloat, especially under the guidance of a sleazy boss (Ron Livingston). Cindy (Garner) gets annoyed by her perfect sister (Rosemarie DeWitt), because that's what non-perfect sisters do.
It's all stuff we've seen before, and done better.
The best moments of the film are where Timothy and his crush Joni (Odeya Rush) interact. Adams does a superb job as the title character, and has strong chemistry with Rush.
Unfortunately, more emphasis is given to Edgerton and Garner's relationship, and they aren't nearly as interesting. Edgerton's character is believable enough, but Garner's is obnoxious and useless. She spends much of the movie fretting about Timothy's relationship with Joni (most mothers would be happy, wouldn't they?) and acting stupid. Together, they are dull protagonists.
Despite its shortcomings, The Odd Life of Timothy Green is admittedly an easy film to watch. It brushes over real emotion in favor of melodramatic family fare, but there are worse things in the world. Like a veggie sandwich, the movie is harmless, but it won't leave you savoring a second helping.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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