The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a strange little sort of movie that borders on being maudlin, but still manages to bring forth its own peculiar charm.
Sympathetic portrayals by veteran actress Jennifer Garner, 15-year-old Israeli-born newcomer Odeya Rush and juvenile actor CJ Adams make us want to believe in its essentially implausible and fantasy-driven plot.
The film opens with Garner, playing Cindy Green, and Australian actor Joel Edgerton, playing her husband Jim, filling out forms at an American adoption agency.
The officials in charge question why they’ve left out some important information on the forms, and a flashback reveals to us their own peculiar story.
When their doctor informed the childless couple that they were incapable of bearing a child, their intense depression changed into wishful thinking about what the qualities of their ideal child would be.
Writing them down in rapid succession on slips of paper, they place their wishes in a small box and bury it in their garden.
That night a torrential downpour drenches their previously drought-stricken town of Stanleyville, a company town somewhere in what appears to be New England.
In the morning the couple is greeted in the spare bedroom by a mud and dirt-encrusted male child of about 10 years old.
When Jim and Cindy ask him where he came from the child, who calls himself Timothy, replies “from the garden”.
His incredible origin is reinforced by the presence of green leaves on his lower legs, which the couple soon realizes cannot be removed.
As Cindy and Jim witness their new offspring fulfilling their wishes for him and meeting their every expectation, they become overprotective, ever careful to guard the secret of his origin.
When he enrolls in school and is goaded by his classmates, who deride his knee socks at the swimming pool, he almost meets with tragedy.
Unaware of the intricacies of swimming, he dives in and sinks to the pool’s bottom. Fellow student Joni Jerome, played by Rush, swims to his rescue, but he becomes fearful of her seeing his leaves and kicks her away.
Feeling badly about the incident, he confides in his mother, who advises him to avoid the girl. But events prove otherwise, as he and Joni soon become inseparable.
She, too, has a secret: a port-stain birthmark on her upper torso, which she keeps concealed.
There’s a naturalistic, almost pagan tinge to the story, all the more unusual for it being a Disney production.
On sunny days, Timothy can be seen with arms outstretched, gazing skywards in seeming obeisance to the source that gave him birth. His relationship with Joni encompasses a mutual love for the world of the forest and the joys of nature.
A subplot involves Jim’s employment at the town’s main industry, the Stanley Pencil Company, which is on the verge of shutting down and rendering its workforce unemployed.
Timothy’s ingenuity saves the day, although he and his parents must first cope with the bullying tactics of the company’s family ownership.
Timothy verges on being cloying, and his parents, especially his overcompensating father, can be irritating at times in their protectiveness.
But there’s enough of the magical in Timothy and Joni’s relationship to make up for that, and to convey a story that ultimately conveys the power of belief.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green plays at the Yukon Theatre at 6:50 and 9:10 p.m. with daily matinees at 3:10 p.m. It is rated G.