The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012)

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The Odd Life of Timothy Green was a live-action Disney film that when I saw it for the first time years ago, I thought that it was once of the worst live-action Disney films I’d ever seen.

Granted I hadn’t seen Prom, The Country Bears, or Old Dogs yet!

I mean, this was the film that persuaded Internet reviewer, Doug Walker, to resurrect his previously cancelled Nostalgia Critic character! So when the time came to review this Peter Hedges-directed film, I wasn’t looking forward to it. Was it as bad as I remembered it? Let’s find out as I review The Odd Life of Timothy Green!

And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!

The film opens at an adoption agency wherein Jim and Cindy Green, played by Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner, respectively, are trying to convince the adoption lady, Evette, played by Shohreh Aghdashloo, of their abilities to be good parents. On their application, they merely wrote down “Timothy” as to what experience has prepared them for parenting. Evette needs the two to expound on that a bit more, so they start telling us their story via flashback.

The Greens live in the town of Stanleyville, a town that’s famous for their pencils. Jim works at the factory making pencils whilst his wife, Cindy, works at the local museum paying tribute to the town’s history, in particular its pencil-related history.

“For more information on the lead fallout of ’74, you can read this brochure.”

The two have wanted children for a long time, but despite multiple attempts, they haven’t been able to have any. Eventually doctors inform them that Cindy is unable to conceive.

To grieve over this saddening turn of events, the two sit down at home one night and imagine what their kid would be like if they were able to conceive. They write down character traits on pieces of paper such as “honest to a fault”, “never gives up”, “Picasso with a pencil”, “would rock”, “love and be loved”, etc. They then put these pieces of paper into a box, bury the box in their backyard, and head to bed. This exercise definitely helped them deal with their grief, but they were unaware of exactly how much more it would help!

Wind’s in the east, mist coming in, like something is brewin’, about to begin. Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, but I feel what’s to ‘appen, all ‘appened before!”

Not long after, there’s a heavy rainstorm and the Greens hear noises in their house. As they search their house for the origin of the noises, they come to find a young, muddy boy in one of their rooms who introduces himself as Timothy. The Greens assume Timothy, played by CJ Adams, is a young boy who has run away from home and do their best to take care of him and clean him off while they alert the authorities. Jim begins to dial for the police, but hangs up when he notices that the box in their backyard has been dug up and smashed to pieces. Cindy also finds something peculiar when she notices that Timothy as green leaves growing out of his lower legs.

“It’s not that easy bein’ Timothy Green. Having to spend each day with legs filled with leaves. When I think it could be nicer to have toys or marbles or coins or something much more colorful like that.”

The cops eventually visit the house to figure out why Jim hung up, but Jim doesn’t tell them about the kid and says it was just a false alarm. He then realizes from the cops that the rainstorm only occurred over their house and nobody else’s!

After the cops leave, the Greens fully realize that they’ve successfully “grown” their very own son, Timothy! Through the magic of rainstorms and the pieces of paper, this young boy was brought into their life possessing all the qualities that they wanted in their kid!

Bear in mind that the adoption lady is still sitting there listening to this story!

The Greens continue their story by mentioning how the next day was supposed to be a family BBQ at their house. But of course, in the big events of the previous night, the Greens totally forgot about it. They only remember about it when they hear the rest of their family already outside and when Cindy’s sister, Brenda, played by Rosemarie DeWitt, rings the doorbell. Timothy answers the door and of course, Brenda is surprised to see him there. He explains how he came from the garden.

“Is my sister keeping you hostage? Blink once for ‘no’ and twice for ‘yes’.”

Fortunately, Jim and Cindy reach the door just in time to prevent any further questioning from happening. They make Timothy wear long socks to cover his leaves and introduce him to the family as a son they just adopted. Timothy enjoys meeting the rest of the family including multiple cousins, Cindy’s Uncle Bub, played by M. Emmet Walsh, and Jim’s father, “Big Jim”, played by David Morse. They all hang out, eat, and play games like dodgeball, and Timothy seems like a normal kid to everybody else…for the most part.


The next day, the Greens take Timothy to their botany friend Reggie, played by Lin-Manuel Miranda!

What can I say except, ‘you’re welcome!’?

He’s the only person they divulge the secret of the leaves to and try to get him to cut Timothy’s leaves off. Reggie attempts, but the leaves break his shears proving that it’s impossible to cut the leaves off.

Soon after that, the Greens enroll Timothy into a school and not long after are called to the principal’s office. Apparently Timothy was the victim of a bullying attempt, but due to his good nature, he didn’t even complain nor divulged who bullied him at first. After Timothy tells Jim who the bullies were, Jim goes to talk with the bullies’ father to straighten things out. After all is said and done, the bullies’ parents invite Timothy to their son’s birthday pool party at their house to make amends.

She’s still listening.

Timothy enjoys being at the pool party especially to see a female classmate whom he’s been crushing over, Joni, played by Odeya Rush. Timothy goes into the pool, but not knowing how to swim, almost drowns, so Joni rushes in to rescue him. While there, she becomes the second person to know that Timothy has leaves on his legs.

The two become close after that with Joni showing him a birthmark of hers that she keeps hidden because she’s embarrassed about it as well. Timothy continues to experience more life events such as dealing with the death of Uncle Bub and trying out for the school’s soccer team. The soccer team’s coach, Coach Cal, played by Common, at first doesn’t think Timothy has what it takes, but after pushing by Jim and Cindy, he gives in.

“Coach Cal is easily swayed!”

As it turns out, Timothy pretty much stinks at soccer, but his parents do their best to help him out with that. In returns, Timothy encourages his parents to design a new type of pencil after news has broken out that the pencil factory is not doing so well. They spend days working on this and soon invent a pencil made entirely out of leaves!

Other events take place such as Cindy losing her job after Timothy inspires her to tell her difficult boss, Bernice Crudstaff, played by Dianne Wiest, how she really feels about her. And Cindy, having previously been suspicious of Joni, learns to accept her as Timothy’s crush when Joni shows her a “world” that she and Timothy created in the nearby forest.

“Well, it ain’t no Terabithia, but…”

Even events that aren’t particularly positive for Timothy occur such as having to show off musical skills for his extended family despite having none and kicking the winning goal for the opposing team.

Well, their time is up! So the adoption lady calls the authorities on the Greens for wasting her time and not being entirely sane of mind, right?

Nope, somehow the Greens convince Evette to give them a bit more time to complete their story.

Now, a change seems to have gone over Timothy. For example, his parents witness him seemingly “break up” with Joni.

“You did what?”
“I had to.”
“Yes, but, but, but…why?”
“Because…I love her!”

After that, there is a town hall meeting at the pencil factory wherein they announce that the factory will not close down due to the creation of that new leaf pencil. However, Jim’s boss, Franklin, played by Ron Livingston, takes credit for the invention. After hearing this, Timothy gets up to the microphone and announces that the pencil was invented by his parents and not Franklin. To settle the debate, the people ask both Franklin and Timothy’s parents how they got the idea to make a pencil out of leaves. Franklin makes up some vague reason and Timothy’s parents are hesitant to answer. Then Timothy announces to everyone that they got the idea from him because he has leaves on his legs. Even Reggie announces to everyone that this is true.

Oh yeah, I forgot he was in this movie!

Timothy shows the world his legs (which now only have one leaf on them), but it’s enough to prove Jim and Cindy’s story. When they get home that night, Timothy tells his parents the truth that he hasn’t told them yet. But, they pretty much have figured it out already.

The winds have changed…

Timothy is dying. His leaves have been falling out one by one and now that his last leaf has fallen, it’s time for him to go. Another rainstorm occurs wherein Timothy disappears forever and the Greens see that box in their backyard altogether again.

After the Greens finish narrating their story, Evette must now decide whether or not they should be able to adopt a child.

“Into the slammer with you both!”

No it doesn’t end that way. The film actually ends on a happy note with Evette visiting the Greens at their house with a young girl named Lily to be the Greens’ daughter.

So…how do the Greens explain what happened to Timothy to their family? Did the adoption lady just give them a second child because she thought them to be good storytellers? So many questions!

And that was The Odd Life of Timothy Green and man, is it odd! Is it as bad as I remembered? Um, no, but it’s still bad. I mean, it’s just so odd!

There are some nice themes in the film such as themes about being barren, parenting, death, love, loss, sacrifice, etc. But gosh, is it odd! A fellow blogger at Glass Slippers and Popcorn referred to this film once as being a “chick flick”. And honestly, that makes a lot of sense! I used to think “chick flicks” were only romance films, but now I see that films about motherhood and children can be very appealing to women as well!

Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner gave good performances. But CJ Adams, M. Emmet Walsh, Common, and most others in the film were just…okay. And Lin-Manuel Miranda needed to be in way more scenes!

Summing up, I feel I hated this film much more when I was younger. But don’t let that deceive you; the film is still super odd!

So, the final score for this film is 23/35 = 65.71% (D) !

The next review will be posted on July 31, 2018.

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