(Family comedy/Fantasy, PG, 100 minutes)
Imagine this: A movie with a PG rating that you can bring your children to see. It’s not magic. It really exists.
However, magic is a theme of “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” which opened Wednesday in theaters. Academy Award-nominated director Peter Hedges, using a story concept presented by producer Ahmet Zappa, has crafted a sweet story about a couple and their one-of-a-kind son.
Jim and Cindy Green (Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner) live in fictional Stanleyville, the pencil capital of the world. They have a simple life, but they crave a family. Frustration and disappointment surround them as they try to make it happen.
In a burst of creativity, the couple gets the idea to write down the qualities of their ideal child. This proves to be a respite from reality when the couple solemnly buries the box of wishes in their garden.
A natural occurrence — rain — is followed by an unnatural occurrence of a 10-year-old boy, naked and covered in mud, who shows up in the Greens’ home. To make matters even more confusing, Timothy (CJ Adams) has leaves growing on his shins. Nevertheless, his large, bright eyes stare calmly at the freaked-out couple that he calls “mom” and “dad.”
Since there are no missing persons that they are aware of, Cindy and Jim awkwardly try to make sense of their sudden shove into parenthood. They clumsily explain how they acquired the boy who has a strange affinity toward sunlight to “Big Jim” (David Morse), Jim’s lackluster father; Brenda (Rosemarie DeWitt), Cindy’s haughty sister with a family of overachievers; Cal (Common), Timothy’s aggressive Erasers soccer coach; and, eventually, the rest of Stanleyville.
The story is a coming-of-age tale of not only Timothy, but also everyone he touched. Although his origins are mysterious, he goes through similar rites of passages as other 10-year-olds: getting teased by his peers in school, falling in love for the first time, and trying to make friends. Leaves aside, he’s still a typical kid.
His parents are also trying to navigate this newness in their lives. Cindy is a worrywart mother while Jim tries overcompensating for the hole in his childhood, brought on by his absentee father. It is here when Timothy functions as a teacher for Cindy and Jim.
He’s wise beyond his years but still maintains a childlike innocence. Nevertheless, the leaves do serve a purpose, the revelation of which will touch everyone in an unexpected way.
Hedges’ films are known to be touching, even with tough situations thrown in. In “About a Boy,” one of the characters attempts suicide. In “Gilbert Grape,” there is a morbidly obese mother and a mentally disabled son. The special thing about Hedges’ projects is that there is always a silver lining.
The same holds true for “Odd Life.” There are highly emotional situations in the film, and you’ll probably tear up throughout it. But the good thing about tears is that they don’t always flow from a sad situation.
This movie doesn’t have the appeal of 3-D or IMAX effects. It’s not a remake of a cult classic. Instead, imagine Twinkies, Hershey’s Kisses and Pixie Sticks — it’s that sweet.
It might get a few eye rolls and groans from some, but this film offers the rare occurrence that everyone in your family can see it. So take advantage of that.