Posts Tagged ‘The Odd Life of Timothy Green’


odd-life-timothy-green04If Tim Burton had directed “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” instead of Peter “Dan in Real Life” Hedges it might have been called something like “The Strange and Sad Tale of Mr. Pencil and the Chlorophyll Kid.” This bizarre tale could have used a dose of Burton’s off-kilter sensibility to mute Hedges’s heart-string tugging.

Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton are Cindy and Jim Green, a good-looking couple from Stanleyville, the Pencil Capitol of the World. She works at the Pencil Museum, he’s a foreman at the pencil factory. Childless, they have been trying for years to get pregnant. After a specialist tells them that it won’t be possible for them to have a child, they commiserate in an unusual way. Over a bottle of wine they write down all the characteristics they’d like their idea child to have; a heart like his mother, to score the winning goal and to be able to rock out on an instrument. Sealing their wishes in a box, they bury it—along with their hope of having a child—in the garden and go to bed. Soon there’s a commotion outside, and they become the proud parents of… a plant. Well, a boy named Timothy (Cameron Adams), complete with leaves where his socks should be, who sprung from the “seeds” they planted.

There is no denying the sweet tone of “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.” Garner has likeability on her side, so you empathize with Cindy and her “You can’t let anyone see your leaves!” protectiveness and Edgerton pulls it off as a confused and confounded dad, but the fantasy aspects of the story come off as twee instead of sweet.

It’s fertile ground for a fantasy about fertility, shame and acceptance but it feels a bit too clever for its own good. It’s hard not to identify with the choices new parents have to make when Jim send Timothy off to school with a cheerful, “Have a great day,” only to have Cindy scold him, “That’s a lot of pressure…” Those bits the movie gets right but the rest of it, the story of leaf boy and the pencils is, pardon the pun, drawn out.

Add to that a series of unnecessary connective scenes at an adoption agency and you have a movie with likeable performances, and a timely message in our bullying age, but one that also feels overgrown with sun-dappled sentiment.

Great things sprout from mere dreams By Richard Crouse August 14, 2012 Metro Canada

The-odd-life-of-timothy-green-the-odd-life-of-timothy-green-30445246-800-400The Odd Life of Timothy Green comes by its mix of whimsy and realism honestly.

It was born from a dream. Sort of.

“I’d been dreaming that I was directing something and it was going well,” says director Peter Hedges. “I had sat up in bed and told my wife I wanted to make one of those movies like A Field of Dreams or It’s a Wonderful Life. She said, ‘Great, go back to bed.’ But I couldn’t. ‘What’s the matter?’ she said.  ‘I don’t really come up with those kinds of ideas.’

That could have been the end of it, but as luck would have it he met with Ahmet Zappa, who had a loose idea about a childless couple who bury slips of paper with all the qualities they would like their child to have in the garden. After a heavy rain a young boy with five leaves on each ankle emerges.

Suddenly his whimsical dream was looking much more like reality.

“There was just a myriad of possibilities,” the director continues.

“I started telling stories from my own experience as a parent, as a child, as an adult. All that I’d learned in the 15 years I’d been a dad. The meeting got very emotional. I didn’t really want to write off of anyone else’s notion but this was too delicious. It felt like if I took on its magic and married it with my experience and my deep need to explore, in a new way, the issues of family and love and how we treat each other and how we navigate this broken world… if I could put all that together, maybe I could come close to making the kind of film that I was dreaming about.”

Finding a balance between realism and fantasy, however, was harder than he imagined. A table read of his initial script   revealed some problems.

“About halfway through the reading fell apart,” he says.

“Suddenly I found myself falling asleep and the room got very grim. What I realized was that while the ultimate journey was right, the middle of the movie was in deep trouble. I had more whimsy and less meaning.”

A rewrite led to finding the right balance.

“With a film like this you take a bit of a leap,” he says. “I think that is the enchanting part of cinema. “That’s why we go to the movies.”