Ever since the trailer of Disney’s The Odd Life of Timothy Green was released, I have been urged to see the film and review it. With Disney involved one could rightfully expect to witness a modern day fairy tale filled with magic and positive messages. The story is unusual (to say at least): a childless couple receives an unexpected gift when a young boy covered with mud emerges miraculously in their house and claims to be the son they have always wished for.
The boy’s name is Timothy and, to complete the unusual circumstances of his appearance, he has leaves on his feet. From this moment in the film on I had to remind myself to dismiss the otherwise objective view on reality that I tend to favor when watching a movie — and just enjoy the story of Timothy and his newly found parents in the same way one would enjoy the story of Cinderella or Peter Pan. Helping me to do that is the film’s rich visuals, beautiful cinematography and production design. The stylized portrayal of an idealistic small town in America where the action takes place actually works in favor of the story — bringing reminisces to mind of the art of the American illustrator Norman Rockwell.
The lush richness of Autumn colors is emphasized by the film’s cinematographer John Toll and, as result the magic of nature gets associated with the miraculous appearance of Timothy. At the same time, the story of the film and nature are interconnected symbolically in such a way that the developments of the story and its characters can be associated with the changing nature of the world that surrounds them. The aesthetics of the film and its symbolism made watching it an enjoyable experience — despite its missing ties to reality.
The perfect family / The Odd Life of Timothy Green
The movie also reminded me of the important role production values play in cinema. I Am Gabriel is a somewhat similarly themed film that received a non-favorable review by me based on its production design and cinematography that left a lot to be desired. I recognize the fact that the budget with which I Am Gabriel was shot was significantly lower than that of The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Yet, while the plot of both movies feels oversimplified and predictable at times, the technicalities and visual appeal play its important role.
Although the movie follows the broad description of the definition of the magical realism genre, I would hesitate to classify it as belonging to that film category. The blend between magical elements and the real world was not smooth enough to allow the film to be seen as anything but a fairly tale. The narrative can be seen as Coming-of-Age as both Timothy and his parents’ personalities develop throughout the story. While The Odd Life of Timothy Green focuses on the importance of acceptance, it also accentuates the importance of individuality – reminding us that each person is extraordinary and unique and that one should never practice blind conformity for the sake of belonging. Yet, despite its positive messages, the film’s story is nothing to get excited about .
Cameron C.J. Adams as Timothy in The Odd Life of Timothy Green
The young Cameron C.J. Adams’s performance is the other feature which, added to the production values of the movie, will make your movie-going experience worthwhile. Casting such an adorable youngster in the role of a mysterious, wise beyond his years, kid was an ingenious decision by director Peter Hedges (whose most recognizable work for the fans of the Coming-of-Age genre is undoubtedly the 2002 drama About a Boy). Sadly, Timothy’s story was not particularly challenging to portray, which left me wanting to see C.J.Adams’s talent put to better use in a more dramatic narrative.
In the end, I enjoyed the film but don’t think it lived up to the hype that surrounds it. Expect a typical family-friendly Disney production with no big conflicts to resolve. The Odd Life of Timothy Green is not as moving as I had hoped, but it’s inspirational never-the-less.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green Official Trailer
Film title: The Odd Life of Timothy Green
Release year: 2012 Monsterfoot Productions, Scott Sanders Productions, Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Peter Hedges
Cast: CJ Adams, Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, Odeya Rush, Shohreh Aghdashloo and others