If you stop and think about the impact that Disney has had on all of our lives, it’s simply staggering. It would be almost impossible to find someone you know who has never seen a Disney film or TV show. Disney’s formula for success is often imitated, but there is only one Disney. With The Odd Life of Timothy Green, you have a Mary Poppins tale of sorts. You understand it’s a Disney family film and you suspend disbelief, just long enough to allow yourself to get sucked into the movie. You put the Disney name on a film and it’s almost guaranteed to make a profit. But, does Odd Life this compare to the the beloved films in the studio’s iconic registry? Well it is a Disney film, tropes and all so there’s at least that level of comfort going in.
First off The Odd Life of Timothy Green is well acted by Jennifer Garner (Alias, Daredevil), Joel Edgerton (Warrior, The Thing) and surprisingly well acted by CJ Adams (Dan in Real Life). They each deliver very powerful performances with emotional and believable depth. The biggest issue with the film however is that it is so annoyingly grounded in reality that you forget you are watching a family-friendly Disney film. It begins to unfold as a somber couple (Garner and Edgerton) are told they have tried everything they can to conceive a child, but they are just not able to have children. You are burdened with this overbearing sense of reality and somberness right out of the gate. The couple finally decides to try and move on by burying a wish list for a child in the backyard. Timothy Green arrives and no one really questions where he came from. More struggles ensue as the movie addresses bullying, not fitting in, and a whole slew of other heavy handed and depressing issues.
As far as the cast is concerned, they did a wonderful job and kudos to Odeya Rush for her powerful performance as Joni. The supporting cast was peppered with recognizable faces such as David Morse (The Green Mile, Contact, The Hurt Locker), M. Emmet Walsh (My Best Friend’s Wedding, Wild Wild West) and Diane Wiest (The Lost Boys, Edward Scissorhands, I am Sam). There were several other recognizable actors and actresses in this film as well. If the acting were to stand on its own the film was fine. However, the hard-hitting issues that were addressed in the film gave it too much emotional baggage and begin to distance itself from the types of expected and familiar Disney Family Films. The laughter and heartwarming moments were so overshadowed by the weight of the film that it is hard to feel happy.
Circling back to the main actors, Jennifer Garner delivers a powerful performance as Cindy Green. She is completely believable and has sincere warmth about her that comes through in her performance. You really do feel for her and her struggles as she manages this roller coaster ride of a screenplay. Joel Edgerton also delivers a very moving performance. He’s an up and coming actor that is starting to deliver in some diverse roles as of late. CJ Adams was well chosen for the role of Timothy Green and delivers a multi-dimensional performance. That being said, if it weren’t for the leaves on Timothy’s legs, there would be no hint of escape from reality in this film. The Odd Life of Timothy Green felt like a mash up of Mary Poppins and Pay it Forward. The movie is definitely not for everyone, but for those seeking this type of film it was definitely well acted.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green is another product of the Disney machine. But like Timothy, it is an oddity in the Disney family. You feel what you are supposed to feel as every moment is hand-crafted and molded into an emotional journey that will touch you on so many levels. Yet the emotional swings and issues explored go deeper than what one might have expected from the trailers. This isn’t the best Disney film to ever grace the silver screen, but it’s filled with special moments and very heartfelt sentiment. While it’s a family-friendly movie on the surface, it touches on some very deep, emotional struggles with parenthood, bullying and even death. The film is well acted, well directed and the cinematography are all true to form as this is, after all, a product of the Disney label. That being said, it felt a bit heavy-handed and rife with emotional turmoil, to the point where it’s hard to enjoy the positives in the movie.