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Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012 10:21 pm

Green Suffers from a terminal case of the cutes

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The Odd Life of Timothy Green requires a giant leap of faith as it deals with the creation of an ideal, seemingly out of thin air. In this case, that would be the title character, a handsome, charming, sweet, smart 10-year-old (C J Adams) who grows from the garden of a childless couple who, during a drunken night in which they seek closure over their infertility, write down all of the qualities they would want in a child, place them in a small cedar box and bury it in their garden. I’m going to bet this happens in Kansas. If a twister there can transport you to a land of good fairies and flying monkeys, then conjuring a kid from a garden is child’s play.

The folks in question are Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton) and they live in Stanleyville, an idyllic town where everyone owns a Victorian house and nearly all toil in a pencil factory that’s forgotten to change with the times and is on the verge of closing. The Greens don’t know it but their son holds the answer not only to their problems but to those of most of the folks in Stanleyville. He comes up with a way to save the factory as well as cure what ails his distant grandfather (David Morse), his mom’s grumpy boss (Dianne Wiest) and a young teen recluse named Joni (Odeya Rush).

Taken as a fairy tale, Green isn’t half bad. Adams is certainly appealing and doesn’t overdo things in the “cute” department. Cutting to the chase – the kid is charming but not so much so that you want to bash his face in. However, the same can’t be said for Garner and Edgerton, who shamelessly overact. While he’s able to ground himself at times, she’s so overtly mom-like in the way she understands, nurtures and listens to Timothy that the actress turns in a one-note performance that quickly becomes grating. Regardless, by the end, I was wishing the kid had sprouted in someone else’s garden.

Like E.T. and so many other films like it, Green gives us a messianic hero who’s destined to be martyred for the betterment of all. This leads us to a somewhat tragic conclusion that’s more than a bit cruel in its suddenness and doesn’t have the guts to examine the repercussions it would spawn. While the youngsters I saw this film with were taken by it, I think the movie will appeal to parents or prospective parents as it cuts to the core of what it is to care for a child.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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