Movie Review: The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Last week I attended a screening of Disney’s new movie, The Odd Life of Timothy Green. I knew from the television commercials that it was going to make me have feelings. There’s a kid who appears out of the garden and well, I just kind of knew it was going to deal with infertility and other things that make me have feelings (spoilers after the cut).

So back to my feelings (it is all about me, right?). The movie opens with Mr. and Mrs. Green (played by the sweet Joel Edgerton and the lovely Jennifer Garner) at an interview with an adoption agency. I’ve done that. They aren’t quite as they depict, but I’ve yet to see adoption portrayed realistically in the movies. As the Greens tell their story, the flashbacks begin with a conversation in their doctor’s office. I’ve done that too. I’ve had the drive home after said doctor’s appointment, and I’ve done things equivalent to digging in the garden for lack of other diversions.

Like the Greens, my husband and I had to put to rest the idea of a biological child. Unlike the Greens, the idea of our biological child didn’t come to fruition, in the garden, in the form of a ten year-old with the name we’d picked out.

After that doctor’s appointment, the Greens list everything they had wanted their child to be and bury the box holding their notes about their child in the garden with all of their hopes and dreams. That very stormy night, Timothy enters their lives. As you might guess, Timothy is everything they’ve ever hoped their child would be. Watching Timothy experience life is  funny, and it’s sweet to watch them learn how to parent.  There are plenty of light moments to keep school-aged kids interested and  laughing.

There’s only one thing though – Timothy has leaves on this legs, kind of like a sapling tree. And as the movie goes on, he loses his leaves. You know where this is going, right?

The movie closes with the Greens welcoming an older child into their lives, for what is, presumably, an adoption placement (again, it doesn’t really happen like that). You leave the movie full of good feelings because the boy from the garden taught them that they can, in fact, be good parents to any child.

Oh so many feelings. Infertile couples don’t get the opportunity to live with their dream child, even for a few weeks. Children do not sprout from the garden. Hanging out with a tree-like child for a few weeks doesn’t mean that you’re qualified to adopt an older child who, obviously, did not come from the garden. I could go on and on; like I said, this movie brought up many feelings for me.

Should you go see it? If you’re ok with the cards the world has dealt you when it comes to fertility and family planning, you will probably have an entirely different opinion of the movie. Go see it! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, but it’s not really better than Cats. If you’re not ok in that department, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Should kids go see it? If the kid is living with his biological parents and is age seven and over, he’ll probably enjoy the movie. My children (who were adopted) aren’t ready for this movie yet. I think children with other backgrounds, be it adopted, in foster care, or in custodial care, well, then that needs to be examined on a case-by-case basis. I can see it in the future being a good spring board for discussions around a family’s decision to adopt, but the parents and the children involved need to be ready to have that conversation.

2 replies on “Movie Review: The Odd Life of Timothy Green”

“Dream child” is a generalization…basically, what happens is they start to realize that Timothy has all of the qualities they wanted in the kid- but he puts his own spin on it. There are some hilarious parts during their time with Timothy (I won’t give them all away), that makes the expressions “Be careful what you wish for” ring true. As this instances happen, they realize they love him fiercely for who he is, and not what they wanted him to be.  I think part of the message of the movie is just that- each person is an individual, with quirks and qualities no one can predict.

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