November 24, 2017

“Timothy Green” is a Slower, Simpler E.T.

Timothy GreenBy Julie Samrick

Remember Cabbage Patch Kids?  Those odd little dolls that were all the rage for little girls in the 1980s each came with adoption papers, a birth certificate, and a composite of each kid’s hobbies, unique strengths, and even personality traits.  What that little piece of parchment paper revealed was as exciting as the dolls themselves.

 

The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a tale told from the point of view of married couple Jim and Cindy Green (played by Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner).  It begins with their sadness over not being able to conceive. And in Jim’s last ditch effort to keep his wife’s spirits lifted, a defiant Jim rattles off a list of qualities their imaginary child would have, hoping, believing them to be true.

 

The Greens plant these traits in their garden that night, encapsulating their dreams in a little box, only to wake up to a fully sprouted 10-year-old boy of their own.

 

The rest of the story unfolds in the same fashion as stories like E.T., or the 1990s film, Powder.  The new additions are odd, definitely other worldly, yet ultimately more compassionate than most of the humans they’re around.

 

The movie is sweet, but not with as much magic or nearly as funny as E.T.  As it plods along, “Timothy Green” is also weirdly outdated. I thought for sure it had been based on a novel from 30 or more years ago and needed updating, but it’s actually an original screenplay.  From the old-fashioned way all the kids dress and what they like to do in their spare time (ride big handled bikes around town), to never a mention of the challenges technology presents for young people today, opportunities were missed to contrast Timothy’s simple ways to a fast-paced, modern world. Besides pressure to perform well in sports, Timothy’s situations are not authentic to 21st century kids.

 

The film is rated PG for its emotional issues like death, infertility, and adult sibling and parent dynamics. Still, the movie is fine for viewers over 8.   Kids that age and older will leave with the message that being yourself is perfectly enough. One of the other strongest themes of the movie is that the most meaningful relationships aren’t always bound by blood.

 

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