Disney likes to advertise themselves as the magic-makers of the world, so it comes as no surprise that the conglomerate’s newest film, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, plays up the supernatural mysteries of its title character as only Disney and Co. can do. For the most part, the magic is decent, but the story is not without clichés that occasionally dumb down the effect.
We’re introduced to Jim and Cindy Green (Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner), a small-town couple who, upon realizing they can’t conceive, decide to write down the attributes of their would-be child. They then bury the notes outside in a shoebox. For both characters, the process serves as a type of ceremonial ending to a long and painful process. The dismal mood shifts, however, when an inexplicable storm passes in the night and the couple awake to a mud-covered Timothy (CJ Adams), who unquestionably refers to Cindy and Jim as mom and dad. Family bliss ensues, but at a (seasonal) cost.
Though charming in some ways, Odd Life never evolves from standard story formulas and plot points. The charm, really, lies with the cast, as Garner and Edgerton carry the movie with a sweet vulnerability and warmth that pair well with their character’s intentions. Adams also contributes with flashes of genuine naïveté, much in tune with his role. And for good measure, we have to mention the great Dianne Wiest, who makes a small, memorable appearance as a stringent arts administrator. Even in such minor roles, two-time Oscar-winner Wiest always seems to outshine her counterparts.
Although Oscar-nominated writer/director Peter Hedges has produced some great original flicks in the past (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Dan in Real Life), nevertheless Odd Life isn't as idiosyncratic as his other projects. Predictably, there’s a lofty moral involved and everyone ultimately changes for the better. It won’t make the movie less entertaining from a kids’ standpoint, considering kids won’t bother to nitpick recycled twists and storylines (hence the second star in our Kids review). Adults will more likely take notice, though one should keep an open mind. We can all afford to believe in magic, even if it's something we've seen before.