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Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, Dianne Wiest, CJ Adams, Rosemarie DeWitt ... see more see more... , Ron Livingston , M. Emmet Walsh , Odeya Rush , Lin-Manuel Miranda , Lois Smith , David Morse , Common

Director/writer Peter Hedges brings enchantment to the screen with The Odd Life of Timothy Green, an inspiring, magical story about a happily married couple, Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and J... read more read more...oel Edgerton), who can't wait to start a family but can only dream about what their child would be like. When young Timothy (CJ Adams) shows up on their doorstep one stormy night, Cindy and Jim -- and their small town of Stanleyville -- learn that sometimes the unexpected can bring some of life's greatest gifts. -- (C) Disney

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33% liked it

123 critics

PG, 1 hr. 40 min.

Directed by: Peter Hedges

Release Date: August 15, 2012

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DVD Release Date: December 4, 2012

Stats: 2,542 reviews

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  • March 1, 2013
    When I saw the previews of this movie, I honestly thought that it looked kind of silly. Well..I couldn't have been more wrong. This fantasy movie was just wonderful. It was sweet, funny, charming, and a complete all around wonderfully likeable family film. If this movie doesn't w... read morearm your heart, nothing will....
  • January 19, 2013
    My friend and critical colleague Ben Bailey had warned me about The Odd Life of Timothy Green and he quite eloquently voiced his dumbfounded musings, which I will try my best not to knowingly replicate though I'm sure there will be some carryover. But whatever he wrote could not ... read moreprepare me for what I ultimately got with The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Ladies and gentlemen, I think this movie broke my brain.

    Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton) are having trouble conceiving a child. One night they write a list of their hopes for a future child, place them in a box, and bury this chest of hopes in their garden. The next day they are shocked to discover a child covered in dirt claiming to be their son, Timothy (CJ Adams). He is the physical manifestation of all those buried hopes and wishes with some leaves attached to his ankles. The Greens take their magical parenthood in stride, trying their best to impart wisdom to their new son. They teach the kid how to play soccer, stand up to bullies, and interact with other human beings. Timothy has a secret he can't bring himself to tell his new mom and dad, but if you have a hard time figuring out what his leaves falling off means, then there's nothing I can do for you.

    I feel like I just watched a movie where every person on Earth is depicted as being insane. Not goofy, not eccentric, not a little funny, no, we're talking get the butterfly nets and padded cells. I feel partially insane just having watched the film, obviously still suffering from a contact buzz of insanity. I accept suspension of disbelief and that fantasy-based family films are going to have a whimsical nature to them. We cannot apply every rule of reality and logic to them, and I accept this. But The Odd Life of Timothy Green seems to exist in a fractured, cracked version of our own world, where the most bizarre and fantastical elements are just given a halfhearted shoulder shrug. People react to otherworldly events as if they were doing laundry. Where's the awe? Or, more so, where is the skepticism? Seriously, if anybody told you they grew a child from a garden, would you accept this notion at face value? Their great piece of proof is that the kid has leaves attached to his ankles. Don't you think, I don't know, the parents could have taped those on? Beyond one guy, no one investigates this strange botanical phenomenon or even has the slightest inclination to. Where's the intellectual curiosity, people? It's like everyone in town has a lobotomy. Is there not one person in this small town that will dare stand and say, "You know, I think I'm going to require more empirical evidence to buy the story that this kid was formerly plant food." And then they ran that one man out of town on a rail and salted his land.

    Timothy Green tries to gather a slew of messages and feel-good moments; it's just that none of them feel coherent or truly earned. The parents don't feel like responsible or even interesting adults. I understand we're not going to dwell too much on the disappointments of a couple unsuccessful in conceiving a child (this is becoming an odd trend for Garner), but I expected more than one good cry and a bottle of wine. I want to empathize with these people but the movie makes it impossible time and again with their nonsensical behavior; it's like they're adults as envisioned by a child. On that note, I think the movie probably makes more sense from a fantasy point of view to flip the participants. It seems more likely that a child would try and grow new, ideal parents only to learn a lesson about the duds they're stuck with. The Green family members all work one-note, whether it's the snide sister (Rosemarie DeWitt), the slaphappy grandpappy (M. Emmet Walsh), or the emotionally distant dad (David Morse), it's all a tiny nub of characterization that gets whittled down to nothing. And then Timothy just seems to step into everyone's lives and change them forever with little effort. He gets an older girl to fall in love with him, his father to stand up for himself and his family, and all the not nice people in town to be somewhat less not nice. He gets his mom to speak her mind to her bitchy boss (Dianne Wiest), which ends up getting her fired, so it's a mixed message.

    You want a prime example of this film's collective shared insanity? Take this line from one of the board members from the town pencil factory: "If this boy can have leaves on his ankles, then we can make a pencil out of leaves." What exactly does one have to do with the other, you may ask? I suppose it's some claptrap about what is truly possible or whatever. My apologies to Ben Bailey for treading ground he has examined closely, but this cautionary line of dialogue glows with the intensity of 100 neon signs. It's everything that is wrong and crazy about this movie, and the fact that it is spoken without a hint of irony or humor is all the more galling.

    Here's my problem with Timothy the life-changer: the kid is a dullard. He has no personality, he has no real insights or perceptions into life, he's not funny, he's not that interesting, and he eerily stays in the same modulated emotional presence. I found this kid far more unintentionally creepy than endearing. On paper, Timothy Green sounds like it should be a horror film and not the saccharine family slop that it is. Timothy just comes across like a rather band kid with some weird tendencies, like his repeated inclination to soak up any sunny opportunity to photosynthesize (he gives Scott Stapp a run for his arms-wide-open pose throne). If a character is going to touch people's lives and change their perspectives on life, then at least make that person fitting of praise. This kid just seems like a hazy mystic that's playing it as he goes. Come to think of it, did anyone see him do anything superhuman? Cindy and Jim didn't even find him in the garden, only inside their home covered in dirt. Who's to say that young Timothy Green wasn't a con artist this whole time?

    Then, likely as a defensive means to sooth my ailing brain, I started coming up with my own version of where Timothy Green should have gone. The ability to write down a bunch of general attributes and then grow a child seems too good to pass up. I desire more of this unique child cultivation process. For instance, Cindy and Jim want their kid to rock out as a musician, but they simply write "rocks" on their slip of paper before burying it. How is the magical entity that raises mutant plant kids going to be able to understand what the family intends with this vague entry? What if Timothy Green was born with rocks in his head? I wanted the film to simply turn into a comical version of The Monkey's Paw, where every new version of Timothy Green would go horribly wrong. The first was born and then immediately suffocated because Cindy and Jim forgot to write "working lungs." Then there would be the Timothy born with a "hunger for life" and become a cannibalistic plant zombie. Or the Timothy born with "his mother's heart" and then upon his birth Cindy's heart would go missing. What I wanted was a macabre trail and error game where the would-be parents had to refine exactly what they were asking for with the nondescript magical being in charge of answering hopeful parents. I want The Odd Lives of Timothy Green and I want Cindy and Jim to have to bury all the malfunctioning prototypes in the same garden. Then, when they do perfect their perfect kid, the police find a yard littered with the corpses of children and haul them away.

    The movie is told through the framing device of the Greens telling their story to the adoption agency, and why this adoption agency continues to listen after, "We grew a boy in our yard," is beyond my guess. In a film breaking every boundary of believability known to mankind, this aspect to me seems the most incredulous. This is an adoption agency with standards and rules to follow, and to think they would allow a couple to drone on and on about their magical child that grew from a garden and changed people's lives, instead of calling security and having them escorted from the premises, followed home, and then have their home exhumed for human remains of this child, is beyond me. And then, spoiler alert, they get a kid in the end. What adoption agency could reasonably and responsibly allow these two people, with no physical shred of evidence about their magical child other than some leaves and testimonies, to care for another human being?

    Allow me to also question the sincerity of these two damaged people especially concerning their desire for a child. It sure seems like Cindy and Jim are planning on using their present and/or future child as means of settling some longstanding scores between relatives. When it looks like timothy is finally going to do well in soccer, that's when they pounce, airing out their resentments. Cindy brattily unloads against her sister: "I've had to listen to your perfect kids, well look at my kid! That's my kid!" And then Jim finally let's his distant father have a piece of his mind: "I could have been a good player too, dad. I had skills. If only you would have been more supportive." Am I supposed to find any of this funny, because it comes across as far more sad. I feel like the reason that Cindy and Jim want a child is to desperately prove to their family that they are superior parents. It feels like one very crazy way of proving a point and one where the child will suffer, especially if he or she cannot live to a degree of excellence to provide mom and dad filial ammunition. Another example: both Cindy and Jim are oddly very jealous over the relationship their pseudo son forms with the slightly older gal, Joni (Odeya Rush). They try and talk him out of spending time with her, arguing there are so many fish in the sea for him to pay attention to. Are you really laying the argument that a 10-year-old should be playing the field? It also seems weirdly petty and controlling for two supposed adults to be jealous that their son chooses to spend part of his waking hours with another human being. So, does that sound like a loving and healthy family?

    The Odd Life of Timothy Green is certainly odd but probably not for the reasons that Disney or the filmmakers had in mind. It feels like it exists in an alternative universe where everyone lacks any common sense, curiosity, or relatable human emotions. Nobody acts like a recognizable human being in this film, not for a single second. These people are all zombies, cowed into the cult of Timothy, the magical and, ultimately, messianic figure. But allow me to declare the emperor has no clothes. This Timothy is not worthy of the adulation he receives. He walks around like an ecological Forrest Gump, spitting sappy platitudes and changing lives with the insipid nature of all these easy messages. I wish I could say there was one genuine moment in this movie, but I cannot. It takes a magical premise and suffocates it with unearned solemnity. Why can't a movie about growing a kid in your garden try and be, you know, fun? Well, I suppose embarrassing music recitals and kids getting hit in the head could be mistaken for fun, but I prefer a well developed story, characters I care about, and a genuine sense of enchantment to go with the supernatural. If we can make a movie about a kid with leaves on his ankles, then we can turn any sort of half-formed maudlin pap into family entertainment. Kids deserve better than The Odd Life of Timothy Green, and, for the record, so do plants.

    Nate's Grade: D
  • fb100000145236770
    January 4, 2013
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    "Odd Life of Timothy Green" is one of those movies where you just have to go with it, or you won't enjoy it at all. It's about a couple, Cindy(Jennifer Garner) and Jim Green(Joel Edgerton) who cannot have a child. One night in there depression of being unable to conceive, they ... read moremake a list of everything they would want in a son, put it in a box and bury it in their garden. A storm comes, and boy covered in dirt with leaves on his legs, and he calls Cindy and Jim mom and dad. From their they treat him as their son, and he exudes all the qualities they wanted in a son. He enriches their lives and the lives of everyone else in their lives/town. It's a cute family Disney movie with a pretty crazy premise, and generic execution. It's fine for what it is, and like I said, you either go with it or not. I thought it was ok and worth a watch. I've seen much worse. Emily liked it and actually stayed awake for the entire thing, so I think women will dig it. Give it a shot.
  • December 8, 2012
    He's a force of nature.

    Great Film! Disney written all over it!I wish Disney made more movies like this. Totally clean, nothing even remotely possibly offensive, and yet it wasn't just a kid show. It was interesting, engaging and witty. The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a great ... read morefamily movie to see, and it really gives you that warm feeling when you finish seeing it. I highly recommend seeing it. A unique family story about adoption with a sprinkle of that Disney magic!

    After receiving bad news from a fertility doctor, Cindy and Jim Green try to bury their dreams of having a child by writing out all the great traits their child would have and putting them in a box in the garden. During a freak storm in the middle of the night, they awake to find a boy named Timothy, with leaves growing from his ankles, standing in their kitchen calling them mom and dad. Cindy and Jim are thrown into the midst of parenthood and over the coming months, Timothy will teach them more than they could have imagined about being parents and raising a child, no matter how he comes into their lives.
  • December 3, 2012
    It knows what it wants to accomplish and maps out exactly where it's headed from the start. The most heartbreaking thing about this movie is how hard it's trying to win us over. There may be better movies to shed a tear to, but Timothy Green has a warm presence and is simple and ... read moreharmless enough for any viewer to get into.
  • September 18, 2012
    In the Disney studio's latest attempt at invoking the "aw shucks" reaction out of their audience, The Odd Life of Timothy Green misses the mark completely as it tries to create a story that directly appeals to the infertile-couple demographic. So the story goes that Cindy and Ji... read morem, played by Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton respectively, have tried everything and anything to have a child, but one doctor tells them in the opening scenes that it's just not meant to be. Drunk later that night, the couple write on paper what their perfect child would look and be like. They put these writings into a wooden box and bury it in the backyard. And in perfect Disney fashion, a child grows out of the dirt. Cindy and Jim are soon greeted by their son Timothy at age 10.
    There is a pretty good concept here that would have been great in the hands of Guillermo Del Toro, Tim Burton, or even the Pixar studio. But it's a complete mess in the hands of Peter Hedges and company. It's too overly sentimental for its weird concept to work and too weird to feel believable in any sense. The script is paper thin, and is only good at creating scenes that are not only cliche but absolutely meandering, tedious, and fall flat in trying to communicate any sense of meaning.
    Sure there are underlying themes of accepting people who are different, and that parents should not compare themselves to other parents, but when you hammer your audience with scene after scene that screams the take away points, it might have been a better idea to just make a documentary or create a parenting blog about the issue. And the way the story progresses to communicate these themes is paper-thin. Too many cookie cutter characters representing an ideal. Too many pointless scenes of Timothy holding his hands out to absorb sun as if it were some kind of life force; an action that is never given any meaning.
    By the time the film ends, the Cindy and Jim have barely gone through any change at all. They start the film as a couple unable to give birth to a child, and in the end they learn they can adopt one. What wonderful development. Two hours of my life wasted that I'm never getting back. Perhaps there will be a better film made one day about the anxieties of parenting, one that actually has deals with such a circumstance with insight and substance and isn't as boring, uneven, or forgettable as this one.
  • fb100001050230219
    September 14, 2012
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    It's got its heart in the right place, it's just too sappy at times and not engaging enough to win me over.
  • August 22, 2012
    A perfect child grows out of the box of wishes an infertile couple plant in their garden. It's fertility porn for childless couples masquerading as a kid's movie. It's not too bad, hitting all the easy and obvious emotional buttons, but I had to take a half-star off in solidarity... read more with the poor kids who got dragged off to see something that was made with their parent's entertainment in mind. Will no one think of the children? P.S. GREEN does contain the single goofiest line to grace a major motion picture in 2012: "If this boy can grow a leaf from his ankle, then we can make pencils out of leaves!"
  • December 20, 2012
    A big contrived but definitely feel-good, "awwww" inducing, and maybe even a little tear-jerking. There were things I'd do differently here but overall, it was a really sweet little flick.
  • August 23, 2012
    Great film. The studio should have released it in September instead of August. The film kind of reminded me of movies like D.A.R.Y.L., The Boy Who Could Fly, Starman, and even The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The film is a good film for the whole family to watch. Jennifer Gar... read morener is great in her role. Joel Edgerton reminded me a lot of Russell Crowe, when I was watching him in this film. CJ Adams steals the movie as Timothy. The only negative is that the film is predictable. However, despite it's flaw, I still recommend this film.

Critic Reviews


Trevor Johnston
April 4, 2013
Trevor Johnston, Time Out

Odd indeed. Full Review

Amanda Mae Meyncke
August 22, 2012
Amanda Mae Meyncke, Film.com

The film is schmaltzy and very saccharine, so sweet it'll give you a toothache. Full Review

Ben Sachs
August 16, 2012
Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader

It's hard to believe that Hedges once wrote some decent light fiction (What's Eating Gilbert Grape, An Ocean in Iowa) before he started making greeting-card movies like Dan in Real Life and this one. Full Review

Richard Roeper
August 16, 2012
Richard Roeper, Richard Roeper.com

"There comes a point where "Odd Life of Timothy Green" is just too sentimental and too odd." Full Review

Rene Rodriguez
August 16, 2012
Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

A fable about parenting and its accompanying joys and sorrows, done in the trademark Walt Disney style of pleasant, feel-good entertainment that doesn't leave much of an emotional trace. Full Review

Claudia Puig
August 15, 2012
Claudia Puig, USA Today

Mostly, The Odd Life of Timothy Green feels contrived , if undeniably sweet. Full Review

Stephen Whitty
August 15, 2012
Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger

[It] feels like a retreat - into manufactured drama shellacked with sticky sentimentality, into risk-free storytelling full of coldly contrived conflict. Full Review

Ty Burr
August 15, 2012
Ty Burr, Boston Globe

It's the sort of thing you'll either find enchanting or an excellent reason to reach for the Scotch. Full Review

Michael O'Sullivan
August 15, 2012
Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post

Anyone with an expectation of reality, or an aversion to mawkish melodrama, should probably stay home. Full Review

Michael Phillips
August 15, 2012
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

Hedges is a determined romantic and a bit of a saphead. He's also humane. Full Review

Critic ratings and reviews powered by RottenTomatoes.com

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Facts


    • Uncle Bub: Did you know I invented the peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
    • Timothy: Did you know I'm a great fan of your work?
    • Jim Green: He'll score the winning goal.
    • Jim Green: Have a great day!
    • Cindy Green: That's too much pressure...
    • Jim Green: Have a day you have!
    • Cindy Green: We want to tell you our story.
    • Jim Green: There is just one thing.
    • Cindy Green: You're going to find it hard to believe.
    • Cindy Green: 54 girl names on the list...
    • Timothy: There is something you need to know about me.

The Odd Life of T... : Watch Free on TV


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