Movie Review Nick Spake

"The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is one of those unexpected movies that will totally take your breath away. Much like “Bridge to Terabithia,” another wonderful live-action fantasy from Walt Disney Pictures, this film catches the audience off guard with its imagination and warmth. Where so many movies marketed to kids are reliant on chases and lazy pop culture references, timeless storytelling and great characters enforce “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.” It will be a travesty if children and their parents overlook this brilliant film as it offers the finest family entertainment of the year.

Immediately, the movie sucks you in with the heart tugging tragedy shared by Cindy and Jim Green, respectively played by Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton in exquisite performances. After years of trying, the married couple is finally forced to accept the harsh reality that they will never conceive a baby. As a method of moving on, the two write down everything they would want for the child they cannot have. This scene is just one example of the deep, surprisingly adult drama “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” beautifully captures.

They put their wish list in a box and bury it in Cindy’s garden. That night, it begins to rain solely within the boundaries of their house. Out from the soil rises a little boy who introduces himself as Timothy, the only male name that was written on the couple’s list. He refers to Cindy and Jim as mom and dad and they unquestionably accept Timothy as a gift from God. There are a few things they must hide about Timothy though, such as several green leaves growing on his legs.

In terms of logic, “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is a movie that could easily be torn apart. It’s beyond impractical that a married couple could find a little boy and pass him off as their own. Wouldn’t the schools or child services eventually ask them to show the adoption papers or a birth certificate? But to overanalyze a question such as this is pointless. “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is a modern fairytale and a marvelously told one at that.

Timothy is brought to life through the magnetic CJ Adams, who joins Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward of “Moonrise Kingdom” as one of the year’s breakthrough young performers. Adams is endlessly charming as Timothy, who proves to be funny and wise, but also very curious about the new world around him. He’s a little reminiscent of Pinocchio in the 1940 animated classic. “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” isn’t purely a story about how the title character becomes a real boy though. It’s just as much about the people who surround Timothy.

The film is full of memorable people and thought-provoking relationships. In addition to his parents, Timothy also touches the lives of his judgmental aunt, played by Rosemarie DeWitt, his competitive grandfather, played by James Green, and a young girl named Joni, played by Odeya Rush. Through these interactions, Timothy and others learn the values of honesty, determination, and family while also experiencing the effects of love and death.

Peter Hedges has elegantly written and filmed a classic. Along with last year’s Best Picture nominated “Hugo,” “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is another movie about a child that doesn’t appeal to the lowest common denominator. It reminds us that a family picture can be intelligent and meaningful. Kids and adults alike will be amazed to find how invested they become in the astounding narrative, which reaches supreme heights of emotion in the final act. I’m not going to give away what happens as the film draws to its striking climax. Let’s just say that if you aren’t choked up walking out the theater, you’re made of wood.

• Ahwatukee native and Desert Vista graduate Nick Spake is a student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, Reach him at

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