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Arts Old - DO NOT USE - The Coast News Rancho Santa Fe

‘Odd’ film has familiar feeling

For the first time in a long time, Disney succeeds in hearkening back to its old school roots via “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.” 

I had no idea what to expect from this film — there used to be a time when Disney exuded a classic resonance in storylines and characters that we could remember.

As much as I hate to admit it, Disney has, for the most part, lost sight of its way of life, AND failed to adapt to the constantly changing environment. The brand might continue to live on for decades, but its creations hardly make it past their first year.

In the case of “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” however, we have a survivor.

To say I was surprised at the feeling I experienced while seated in the theater is an understatement. To say I felt a pang of nostalgia as if I were re-living some of my childhood moments playing a VHS tape on the television would be putting it mildly. I think the appropriate term to describe what I was feeling at the time is “magical.”

And yes, I guarantee you will be reminiscing about the wonderful moments you spent with your family as a child when you witness the impact left behind by Timothy Green.

Cindy (Jennifer Garner) and Jim Green (Joel Edgerton) are unable to conceive a child of their own; in response, they write down aspects of their ideal child on pieces of paper and bury them in a box placed outside in their backyard garden. Following a turbulent storm in the night, a 10-year-old boy (CJ Adams) arrives at the Greens’ home and announces that he is their child. They soon come to realize that this boy named Timothy is not only the child they dreamed of having, but also a much more special person in his own right.

Thank you, director Peter Hedges, for making a Disney film that, for once, has the Disney feeling we remember and love.

The heartwarming interactions among Garner, Edgerton, and Adams’ characters are a welcome relief from the dominant forces of flashy commercialism and haunting solemnity existing in most films nowadays. Be it a mealtime or a family outing, the dynamic between the three of them never succumbs to either artificiality or darkness. And who can forget about the scenery?

Aside from the characters, the landscape is an equally visible strength in “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.” Many of the landscapes possess a touching sentimentality, such as the forest in which Timothy spends time with Joni Jerome (Odeya Rush), without ever feeling overly sappy. These elements, when utilized in the appropriate manner, help to recreate the time-honored ambiance that made Disney a proud name to look upon years ago.

Of course, that is not to say this film is not without its weaknesses.

If I had to choose one particular aspect to gripe about, it would have to be Timothy’s holding up of his arms and closing of his eyes whenever he faces the sun. For what reason, might I inquire, does he do this at random moments? No explanation is given, and the haphazard execution of these scenes slows down the pacing of the film by more than a few notches.

If you ask me, the filmmakers should have at least had the courtesy of providing insight into the strange behaviors Timothy occasionally exhibits. Otherwise, said actions ought to be left out.

Casting-wise, this film could not have been what it was had Hedges opted for different actors. Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton were perfectly cast as the couple whose wish for a child comes true in the most unusual manner possible, and the strong chemistry between them never ceases to emanate during some of their more emotionally charged moments.

CJ Adams delivers an endearing performance as Green. Not to mention, there were plenty of sufficient supporting turns from Odeya Rush, Rosemarie DeWitt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, David Morse, Ron Livingston and Shohreh Aghdashloo.

Overall, “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is a wonderful family-friendly story with the kind of heart we have not seen since Disney has more or less lost it in the 21st century.

If you wish to take a break from the darker tales and commercial products that have grabbed our attentions then Timothy’s story could just be your cup of tea.

3 out of 4 stars

“The Odd Life of Timothy Green”

Where: Wide Release
When: Now playing
Run time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Rating: PG

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