A couple desperate to have a child bury their written wishes in a box in their garden, only to have them spring to life in the form of a young boy, Timothy.
Directed by: Peter Hedges
Judging by the trailer, I expected The Odd Life of Timothy Green to be one of those rare films that sucked you in to its quirky, orignal world and provided a modern fairy tale. Unfortunately, that’s not what you get. This fantasy/drama from screenwriter/director Peter Hedges is an uneven affair, primarily because it fails to completely sell the viewer on the fantasy premise.
Hedges, nominated for an Oscar for writing About a Boy, has been behind a number of character-driven drama/comedies, including What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Dan in Real Life. Somehow, Timothy Green never reaches their level.
The film has most of the right ingredients: a strong cast, a capable director, an endearing score, and excellent cinematography. For some reason, however, Hedges fails to make all the pieces come together as a whole.
Jennifer Garner brings a goofy charm as Cindy, and as a real-life mom, she brings an authenticity to the role that few other actresses can match. I’ve been a fan of Garner since Alias, and here, she shows how she has matured into a great actress with a wide range. Edgerton, fomerly the young Uncle Owen of the Star Wars prequels, makes a great leading man, with a certain everyman quality that makes you root for him. His role, however, is a bit underwritten, so he never really gets the chance to emotionallly connect with the audience.
CJ Adams, as Timothy, is excellent as the boy who grew in a garden, and he brings an old soul feel to his young character. However, the script fails him too, by not providing enough material to make him the film’s emotional center. You never quite understand why he’s there, and his character always holds back on his motivations, creating a detachment with the viewer. You like his character, but that’s as far as it goes. He’s not quite the endearing character he should have been.
Ultimately, when the big emotional climax comes – I won’t spoil it for you, but anyone who has seen the trailer can easily guess what will happen – the impact is muted. You see it coming a mile away, and despite all the cliched efforts of the previous 90 minutes, the story and characters have not earned the emotional investment of the viewer. It all falls flat, and Hedges actually avoids milking the drama to connect with us. Did he want us to care or not?
By the time the final credits roll, you’ll wonder why the filmmakers didn’t try to make this film more emotionallly available. Ultimately, you get a movie is perfectly named. The Odd Life of Timothy Green is odd, indeed.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The blu-ray sports an excellent video image, sporting natural colors, nice sharpness, and a picture relatively free of artifacting. This is a great looking video transfer. The 5.1 DTS-HD audio mix is quite good, creating a nice, surrounding atmosphere. The DVD features an excellent 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack in English, French, and Spanish.
A behind-the-scenes featurette called “This is Family” looks at the unique bond the cast and crew had during the film’s making. Hedges, Garner, Edgerton, and the rest of the cast all discuss the film. The film’s excellent music score is detailed in the “Gift of Music” featurette, and composer Geoff Zanelli and Glen Hansard (who wrote the film’s ending song) discuss their approach. Hansard’s music video “This Gift” is also included.
Five deleted scenes (with optional commentary by director Peter Hedges) are included, which add a little more to the story, but also address an abandoned plot point (which I won’t reveal). The commentary, by Hedges, is interesting and enagaging.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT OR REDBOX IT?
Ratings: (1-10 scale)
Overall Grade: 7.25
While it did have its moments, The Odd Life of Timothy Green doesn’t quite reach the lofty level it aspires for itself. It’s good enough to watch once, so we do recommend a RENT, but it just isn’t great enough to warrant adding to your movie collection.
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Running time: 105 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Descriptive Video Service
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, French, Spanish
Special Features: “This is Family” Making-of featurette, “The Gift of Music” featurette, “This Gift” music video, Five deleted scenes
Audio Commentary: By director Peter Hedges