The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012)

dir. Peter Hedges

What an utterly bizarre idea for a story. Cindy (Jennifer Garner) and Jim (Joel Edgerton) are unable to conceive, and in their grief, they write a bunch of notes describing their dream child and bury them in the garden. Soon, an unfamiliar boy with leaves growing on his legs has popped up in their home, embodying all the traits they wished for. Rather than calling the police, or an exorcist at the very least, Cindy and Jim decide to simply claim ownership of the boy, Timothy. They then spend the rest of the movie being the absolute worst parents imaginable – holding an entirely unjustified grudge against his crush, pushing him to play sport and music when he doesn’t want to, and never asking him a single question about himself – and for some reason, the movie seems to believe they are showing their growth by never learning a thing. The film is preoccupied with forced quirkiness, too. The entire town is obsessed with pencils, a detail which adds little to the film beyond a contrived plot point about manufacturing sustainable pencils, which also tragically serves as the story’s exciting climax. At one point, a character declares, in all seriousness and solemnity: “If this boy can have a leaf on his ankle, then we can make a pencil out of leaves.” The Odd Life of Timothy Green eschewed the sane stance that no movie in the history of the universe should ever have this line in it, and instead decided to base an entire story around it. Awful story, awful parenting, awful film.

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