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The Odd Life of Timothy Green starts on a terribly sad note. Despite this, the film is a story about moving forward, about learning to forge a path and find happiness. With What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Dan in Real Life director Peter Hedges helming the project, the film should have hit all of the most affecting notes. Instead, it’s more of a platitudinous affair.
After learning they will not be able to have children, Cindy (Jennifer Garner) and Jim (Joel Edgerton) bury a box with the traits they hoped their kid would have in the backyard. The next day, Timothy (CJ Adams) has entered their lives, seemingly popping out of the dirt. The child is a little strange in his new environment and doesn’t pick up on social cues—he’s even oblivious to bullying and can’t figure out the fun of sports. Timothy is a unique soul, but it’s a struggle to get really excited about his arrival, excepting the fact that he’s growing leaves along his shins.
Luckily, the camera often follows Cindy and Jim. Scenes are reliant on their connections during the best of times and the worst of times, and Garner and Edgerton really work as an onscreen couple. Much of the time I’ve encountered Edgerton in the past, he’s been playing harder characters, and it’s nice to see him in a narrative where he’s a father figure working to make the right choices for his family. I could watch them work with a Rabbit Hole sort of narrative about couple-dom all day, but that’s not really what The Odd Life of Timothy Green is going for.
Instead, we get Cindy and Jim hanging over Timothy, putting all of their hopes and pressures on his daily interactions and motivations. It’s a struggle for the audience, but Timothy doesn’t even seem to notice, moving about in his adventures with a wonderment that’s exhausting and a little unbelievable, although it's hard to tell how a magical kid who pops out of the dirt would actually behave. I guess we can’t really blame him for not noticing his overbearing parents; he’s a little busy finding young love in Joni (Odeya Rush).
There’s a weird sidestory with a struggling pencil factory that’s inherent to the plot but never really gets off of the ground. Additionally, there are subplots with Jim’s relationship to his father and Cindy’s relationship with her sister that are investigated throughout the story. Finally, since Jim and Cindy are telling the story of Timothy Green to an adoption agency, we know where the story is headed, so there’s really no big reveal. Instead, The Odd Life of Timothy Green is just a collection of scenes that follow an extensive group of people in their best and worst moments. It’s too intimate to be a true ensemble narrative about a small town, but it’s too big to make the most of its familial moments.
In the extras on the disc, Hedges and the rest of the cast and crew continually use the word “magical” to describe The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Sure, the story was built on a strange and wonderful premise about a boy who pops out of the ground. However, from there on, the rest of the humdrum story is predictably down to Earth.
The menu page is really perfect, capturing stills from the movie and letting them float across the screen like falling leaves. Once you get into the menu, you’ll see the Blu-ray set has several bonus features.
The first bonus feature is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. It’s called “This is Family,” and unsurprisingly, most of the segment follows the cast and crew discussing how much they love Hedges, Garner, and/or working as part of a family. The one interesting tidbit provided in this extra is that the scene where the Green family improvises a version of “Low Rider” at a musical event was legitimately improvised during shooting. I was actually a little shocked to learn this, as that scene felt forced during the film.
A second featurette, “This is music,” actually takes a look at the score and the 41-piece orchestra that recorded the score. Geoff Zanelli composed the score and Glen Hansard composed a song for the flick called “The Gift.” The music works very well in The Odd Life of Timothy Green and I’m really happy the disc looked more deeply into the recording process. Fittingly, following the featurette is Hansard’s music video for “The Gift.”
Deleted scenes follow, and audiences can view them with or without commentary from Peter Hedges, which I always feel is the best way to do deleted scenes. These are notable because a whole subplot where Timothy’s parents knew he was losing his leaves and were trying to research the loss was cut. Excepting a silly extra where Disney explains what a digital copy is, audio commentary from Hedges rounds out the bonus features, and it really is one of the most bone dry commentaries I’ve ever sat through.
Overall, the bonus features are a nice addition to the set and, excepting the commentary, are worth a perusal.
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