Serious green thumbs might sometimes watch over their gardens like a parent, but The Odd Life of Timothy Green takes that notion to an extreme.
Maybe not, but the family-friendly fable about proper parenting does have its roots below the ground. It’s a bizarre concept about a kid who literally springs up from the dirt alongside the vegetables that sees its fleeting charms cancelled out by too many aggressive tugs at the heartstrings.
Jim (Joel Edgerton) and Cindy (Jennifer Garner) comprise a happily married young couple frustrated by their inability to conceive a child. Having given up on their plan to be parents, they bury a box in their garden with all of their infant wishes.
The next morning, a miracle arrives in the form of Timothy (C.J. Miles), a young boy who claims to be their son. After reluctantly accepting that he was indeed born from their front yard, the couple adopts the smart but socially awkward youngster.
The family tries to deflect questions about their new arrival from nosy neighbors and relatives in their small town, not realizing the child’s inspirational ability to relate to all types of people.
Adams gives an expressive performance as the magical youngster who is precocious without a hint of self-consciousness. While the unique title character is most appealing, the other cast members are generally strong, with the prolific Edgerton (Warrior) continuing to showcase his versatility.
The film, directed by Peter Hedges (Dan in Real Life) is wholesome enough to feel like one of those old television movies of the week. Whether it’s an allegory with deeper meaning or meant to be taken at face value is open for interpretation.
The script by Hedges (from a story credited to Ahmet Zappa) has some whimsical charm amid the routine coming-of-age silliness. Ultimately, however, it is too earnest and lacks subtlety, requiring a tremendous suspension of disbelief for moviegoers.
There are some modest lessons here about acceptance and embracing differences that go down easy enough. Yet well-meaning as the film might be, eventually its cutesy sentimentality becomes too much to bear, and audiences might wish Timothy just went back where he came from.
Rated PG, 104 minutes.