This wish-fulfillment fantasy fable centers on a despairing couple, Cindy (Jennifer Garner) and Jim (John Edgerton) Green, who are trying to adopt a child. Told that they cannot conceive they, nevertheless, envision just the kind of son they’d love to have, scribbling his various character traits on bits of paper: he’d be “honest to a fault,” “Picasso with a pencil,” and “score a winning goal,” just once. Tenderly, they put these scraps of paper in a box and bury it in their front yard. That night, a storm erupts – just over their house. And, miraculously, from their garden emerges mud-caked, 10 year-old Timothy (Cameron ‘CJ’ Adams).
While Timothy certainly has all the qualities they’d hoped for, they manifest themselves in ways his naïve, inexperienced parents could never have imagined. While Timothy lacks a belly button, he does have bright green leaves that, inexplicably, sprout from his ankles. That concerns his overprotective parents because their bizarre appearance makes him look ‘different.’ Yet, having been, literally, willed into existence, Timothy serenely overcomes that obstacle, raising his arms in salutation to the sun, and becoming friends with Joni (Odeya Rush), a teenage girl who rides him around on her bicycle.
Wise-beyond-his-years, Timothy is, indeed, quite special, teaching his doting parents several valuable life lessons before his leaves begin to brown and fall off.
Working from a somewhat muddled story by producer Ahmet Zappa (son of legendary guitarist Frank Zappa), writer/director Peter Hedges (“About a Boy,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?”) utilizes magical realism to reveal how precious the element of time is, particularly in childhood. That’s set against the dire economic stresses caused by the impending demise of the Stanleyville pencil factory, where Jim works for sleazy Franklin Crudstaff (Ron Livingston) and Cindy conducts museum tours under rigid rules set by crusty old Mrs. Crudstaff (Dianne Wiest).
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is a uniquely enchanting 8. Does it make sense? Perhaps not, but neither did “Mary Poppins” or “Peter Pan.”