‘Timothy Green’ pleasant fairy tale
|Cindy Green (Jennifer Garner) shares a laugh with Timothy (CJ Adams) in “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.”|
|Photo: Phil Bray; courtesy of Disney Enterprises Inc|
It tells one of the tough truths of parenting — that as much as we want to give our children the perfect childhood, we’ll make wrong choices. It might be the hobbies we force upon them or the friends we steer them to or away from. We will make mistakes, and we can only hope, to use a phrase from the movie, to learn to make “better mistakes.”
Jim and Cindy Green (Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner) are a married couple distraught over the news they cannot have children. Jim comes up with an unusual coping device, convincing his wife to help him imagine the child that will never be. They write down his/her qualities on scraps of paper, and then place the scraps in a box. They then bury the box in the garden.
Lo and behold, a 10-year-old child miraculously comes into their life, one with all the qualities on their wish list. This could be the starting point for either a fairy-tale movie or a horror movie, and in this case, it’s the former.
The Greens unexpectedly get to try their hands at parenting. They find in their home little Timothy (CJ Adams), who immediately shuts the bedroom door and proceeds to play videogames in there until he’s of driving age.
No, check that. Timothy is an amazing kid — smart, good natured and good hearted, with a gift for brightening the lives of everyone he meets. Among those he encounters is Cindy’s crusty boss, who runs the local museum. The boss is played by Dianne Wiest, who had experience with unlikely angels in “Edward Scissorhands.”
Sure, Timothy has some quirks, such as an aversion to uncovered ankles and a habit of raising his arms to the sun as if auditioning for the musical “Hair.” But, all in all, he’s a true gem. (As is the actor who plays him. In the unlikely event J.K. Rowling decides to do a Potter reboot and wants to cast an American, Adams is your wizard.)
Timothy’s scenes with Cindy and Jim, who he wastes no time calling “mom and dad,” are touching, as are the scenes where Timothy hangs out with Joni (Odeya Rush), a slightly older girl who, like Timothy, has some secrets. Less effective is a subplot about the town’s struggling pencil factory.
The movie, based on an original story by Ahmet Zappa (not based on a book, TV show or Hasbro toy? Is that legal?), does not have the wild touches a director like Tim Burton or Barry Sonnenfeld might give it. But it’s undeniably a fairy tale. Look at how Jim and Cindy act while watching Timothy in a big soccer match. They don’t see a kid engaged in friendly competition. They see a little man who can spin hay into gold.
The movie, currently in theaters, is rated PG for mild thematic elements and brief language.
Three Stars (out of four)
Craig Marks is a cartoonist and editorial, sports and entertainment writer for the West Side Leader.
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