It is the last day of the school holidays, it is raining and I am a total film nerd so off we go to the cinema.
The obvious choice was The Croods but the trailer wasn’t particularly inspiring and I wasn’t in the mood for another brash DreamWorks shrine to CGI and pseudo street talk. No, what I wanted was Disney schmaltz and sentimentality. (The kids didn’t get a choice, I was pulling rank on this one.) Besides the trailer for The Odd Life of Timothy Green had a Children’s Film Foundation meets Tales of the Unexpected vibe to it and in the month of my 40th birthday I felt like going old school.
There is clearly some sentimental stuff in The Odd Life of Timothy Green, a story about a boy with leaves growing out of his legs who climbs out of the earth and presents himself as a son to a tragically childless couple, but it is actually a very charming contemporary fairy tale and I was vindicated for my autocracy because my two daughters, aged 9 and 11 both enjoyed it. If you are looking for a film that you would like to appeal to your children’s sense of imagination, wonder and romanticism rather than their enjoyment of slapstick and people punching stuff then you could do far worse than this.
It is also a nice parable about parenting and the mistakes we make when trying to make decisions on what it best for our children through the distorted filter of adulthood. Once again we have Jennifer Garner as a woman desperate to be a mother but unable to conceive. This does make it all seem like a fantastical alternate reality version of Juno but the believability she brought to that film is once again evident here. This time the wannabe father figure is Joel Edgerton fortunately bringing nothing from his role in Zero Dark Thirty.
The film also deals with issues such as mortality and prejudice that need to be faced by children at some stage and does so in an open and non patronising fashion. Individualism is celebrated alongside honesty and creativity and while the film makers quite deliberately let you know where it is going early on there are some moments of uncertainty along the way.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green has arrived in cinemas with very little fanfare which is unusual for a family film, especially one backed by the behemoth of Disney studies. I expect they were afraid to raise expectations and while it is a shame that this means it will be seen by fewer people I think they made the right call. It’s not that it doesn’t meet expectations it is just that it is more of a treat if you approach it with none.
Take it on its own terms and The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a simple, probably ultimately forgettable but nonetheless delightful treat of a film.
Is this one for the kids?
See above, the film is a U but does manage to deal with some quite grown up issues in a way that will not prove disturbing for young children. Having said that, it may be moving for couples unable to have children, people who have just lost an elderly relative, women with facial hair and people who have just been buried alive and have had to crawl their way out of the earth.
On the flip side, you will think it is great if you are a lover of pencils.