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What Makes <i>The Odd Life of Timothy Green</i> So Odd

The Odd Life of Timothy Green opened on Wednesday -- you know, that Disney movie starring Jennifer Garner and a muddy kid instead of a red-haired Scottish princess -- and while kids probably won't like it, at least...well, actually, adults probably won't either. Garner and Joel Edgerton star as Cindy and Jim Green, a couple who find out that they can't have children and decide to do the most depressing thing possible for their situation: dream what their child would be like. And after making this even sadder by literally burying their dreams in the garden, they wake up to find a muddy boy in their house. And so begins the odd life of the titular Timothy.

But there's a lot of strangeness going on here besides Timothy's appearance and the leaves growing out of his legs. For a movie that's too boring for kids to enjoy, but too childish and message-laden for adults to take seriously, there's some pretty weird stuff going on. It's obvious that the goal of The Odd Life of Timothy Green was to have audiences walking away thinking, "It's okay to be different!" Instead though, most will be thinking, "What just happened?" thanks to things like...

The Framing Device
The film opens with Cindy and Jim at an adoption agency, explaining that they want to tell their caseworker about Timothy and that his story will explain why they'd make good parents. At random points, the movie jumps back to the adoption agency and lets Cindy explain what's happening. Besides distracting from the plot more than it adds to it, this also device reveals much of the ending. And let's be real here: talking to an adoption agency about a kid who came out of your garden is supposed to help you get another? Seems like more of a way to have social services check your mental stability...

An Abundance of Pencils
Apparently the fictional town where the Greens live is famous for making pencils. There are pencils everywhere. Even in the opening credits, which are filled with less-than-subtle imagery of a town being destroyed by economic troubles, there are signs advertising a pencil factory. And not only does Jim work at the factory, but Cindy is employed at a historic house owned by the family who created that factory. So their entire lives basically revolve around pencils, as does a major plot point in the film. There doesn't seem to be a good reason why pencils were chosen as the symbol of the movie, but they are definitely featured enough to be considered a supporting character.

The Crush
Someone who gets almost as much screen time as the pencils is Joni, the girl that Timothy has a crush on. For some reason, every time Joni is seen in the first half of the movie, the images become instantly bizarre. More than once, there's a slow-motion close-up of Joni's face and usually she isn't really doing anything extraordinary. She's just a pre-teen girl riding her bike when music swells and a camera gets in her face. It's supposed to show how Timothy feels when he sees her, but it just comes off as creepy.

The Two-Hour Gap Commercial
Otherwise known as The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Since the entire film is set during the fall in a town that has a seemingly infinite supply of trees, freshly mowed grass and cardigans everywhere. This bucolic setting does allow for some beautiful shots; many of the outdoors scenes are lovely and you can really appreciate the backgrounds. However, thanks to a cast full of brunettes with impossibly shiny hair who are constantly swathed in the aforementioned cardigans (as well as flannel shirts and chunky sweaters) it often seems like a catalog come to life. All that's missing are the prices above each article of clothing.

Timothy
There's no way around it -- Timothy is a weirdo. From the way he stands in the sun and photosynthesizes to his complete inability to understand when someone is being mean, he's more odd than his life is. He's a cute kid and CJ Adams is a good actor (especially for his age), but for someone who came from a garden, he could be a little more grounded.

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