Tuesday, August 14, 2012

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

The Odd Life of Timothy Green       WWW Score: 84%

If there were an Academy Award for the film that gave the greatest effort to simply like it, The Odd Life of Timothy Green would be unbeatable. It's virtually impossible to dislike the thing, a sweetly affable return to family form from the Mouse House.

Set in Stanleyville, the "pencil capital of the world", we greet the Greens, a young-ish couple who've exhausted all available options to conceive a child. So Cindy (a typically charming Jennifer Garner) and Jim (Joel Edgerton) go the imaginary route, writing down the specific traits of their dream child on pieces of paper and burying them in a box in the garden outside their country abode.

After a freak thunderstorm, out of the ground sprouts a 10-year-old kid covered in mud as Jim and Cindy's creative writing experiment results in "Timothy". The abrupt crash course in parenting 101 proves to be arduous for the Greens and yes, Timothy himself, who's learning what it means to be fully human, even with leaves sprouting out of his ankles.

Little Timmy (CJ Adams) soon succumbs to the power of puppy love as his mom finally obtains some firepower in the child arms race with her snooty sister (Rosemarie DeWitt). The battle culminates in a cringe-worthy a capella performance of War's "Low Rider" - the film's nadir.

But it's made tolerable by the film's deluge of charm; there's nary a negative element throughout. Disney indeed. Writer/director Peter Hedges captures it all with sublime cinematography - you feel fall in the air in small town USA.

Hedges crafts a jaunty fairy tale with an ingratiating aura, satiating the need for sincerity and simplicity in a sea of overblown narratives. The Odd Life of Timothy Green isn't 2012's finest film, but it's the most trying. In the nicest way.