... This plant is but a weed in need of pesticide. Spray on...
One stormy night, an infertile couple (played by Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton) discover a dirt-covered boy in their home. The mysterious boy greets them with a smile, deems himself "Timothy" and declares the flabbergasted couple to be that of his parents. As the husband and wife try to make sense of the matter, they're thrown for another loop at the sight of his leaf-layered legs. What follows is a formulaic tale of family, love and acceptance. While it feels like a FOREST GUMP or BENJAMIN BUTTON for children, it completely misses the mark with both its literal and metaphorical aspects of magic. Instead, the simple IDEA of enchantment is used to promote an otherwise blasé tale that keeps its feet--leafy or otherwise--firmly planted in reality.
Consider me negligent, but when I observe a title, synopsis and trailer for a film that deems itself "out of the ordinary", I expect to be treated with content that is, y'know, out of the ordinary. Granted, THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN applies some of its surreal elements early on with an implied garden-birth, I still never felt as though any of the mystic elements were a prevalent force in the film whatsoever. Timothy goes about his day-to-day life just as any naïve child would. He's bullied at school, falls in love, plays (and fails miserably) at sports and goes swimming at pool parties. . . But oh yeah, he has leaves on his legs!!! That's it. Oh, and he does photosynthesize. . . I think. So yes, the boy sporadically carries the faculties of a plant, but nothing is truly done with the material that couldn't have been done without it. Outside of a science-fictional introduction, nothing about the narrative warrants Timothy to be anything more than a boy; nothing is truly done with his susp*cious origins or tendencies. He's just a polite, giving boy. That's it. I actually find it stranger on the filmmaker's part to develop a story grounded in incredible circ*mstances yet be so utterly lacking in unbelievable material.
Even the narrative structure is questionable as the story is laid out in past tense; narrated in the present by his parents who are trying to convey their story to an adoption agency. Not only does this completely break logic (an adoption agency would believe a story about a plant-boy and his leafy legs) but it hinders the pacing of the overall film. This entire plot point is annoying, gratuitous and feels tacked on for both runtime and to serve as a vapid path to the story's convenient, sappy and immensely unsatisfying conclusion which even seems to undermine the entire legacy of Timothy Green.
And speaking of logic, taking TIMOTHY GREEN as a human drama and not so much a fairy tale warrants even more questions. . .
***SPOILER-FILLED RANT BEGINS***
Barely any explanation is given to the friends and extended family regarding Timothy's sudden arrival; the word "adopted" isn't even used. Not only that, but the grandfather doesn't even bat an eye or question the sudden emergence of a random grandchild. Not only does everyone apparently buy the fact that children apparently warp into the city, but no one even questions his inevitable disappearance at the film's conclusion. This aspect of the story isn't even addressed. So again, you have a couple pleading to an adoption agency so that they might gain a child and they recite a story in which a plant-boy is birthed from the ground, has leaves on his legs, lives with them for awhile and then suddenly disappears with no other citizen's knowledge? Sounds more like the defense of psychopathic murderers than two honest parents-to-be.
Even more confusing is the montage which parallels Timothy's ending narration. He states earlier in the film that when his leaves go; he goes too. With this splicing of sequences, we see how/why his leaves "went". Because he gave them to people. Now, this in and of itself isn't bad, but it is baffling to see just who he gave the leaves to. . . Like various people who either NEVER spoke a word to him or tried to hinder his growth as a person. If his leaves are SO valuable, then why does he waste them on people that neither cared nor understood him, let alone gather the significance of his "gift"? Just as I've stated before, just because something is for children, doesn't mean that it must be bereft of thought; it doesn't have to be completely asinine.
Then again, I'm casting way too much thought into a film meant to drain eyes of tears and wallets of money.
***SPOILER-FILLED RANT ENDS***
Despite some beautiful cinematography and a quasi-decent score by Geoff Zanelli, THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN is a shameless and blatant attempt to tug at heartstrings (Peter Hedges is an expert at this sort of thing) by utilizing weak storytelling and cheap emotional gimmicks. What could have been an interesting portrayal of family values amidst a very surreal event is nothing more than a child's equivalent of Eddie Murphy's A THOUSAND WORDS; yet another film that tried to attribute something "magical" to its real world dilemmas of family virtues, honesty and acceptance. TIMOTHY GREEN had potential, but squandered it on a script which doesn't utilize its mythical elements to any sort of worthy degree. This plant is but a weed in need of pesticide. Spray on.