If some of the plot details sound familiar, that’s because the recently released Ruby Sparks took a more adult approach to similar material (a writer’s dream girl materializes one day in his kitchen). The Odd Life of Timothy Green, while less ambitious, is the more successful film. Not only do we care more about the Greens than we did about Paul Dano’s writer character in Ruby Sparks, but Timothy Green’s central questions stay with us: How do we appreciate the miraculous appearance of new life? How can we make the most of the limited time we're given with loved ones? How can we build upon past relationships? 

But the film is not without its drawbacks. Jim and Cindy’s parenting style is smothering at times. They’re new at it, so maybe a degree of eagerness is excusable, although the film often wants us to support the couple’s worst instincts rather than correct them. Supporting actor Common (Date Night), as Timothy’s soccer coach, has one of the best lines in the film. Suspecting the Greens are taking “helicopter parenting" to new heights, he scowls, “You’re not those kind of parents—over-involved, are you?”

The rest of the supporting cast does well with their own one-dimensional roles, although this is the second film of the summer to waste Rosemarie DeWitt in a thankless role (The Watch being the earlier offender). She’s capable of so much more, as she demonstrated in the lesser seen Your Sister’s Sister.

Even if The Odd Life of Timothy Green feels familiar every step of the way -- the film’s autumn colors are nicely shot by John Toll, the winner of Best Cinematography Oscars for Braveheart and Legends of the Fall -- it leaves you thinking about the preciousness of time and how physical differences can strengthen rather than divide us. This is an earnest, well-intended, and good-enough-to-recommend film.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: “Oh, God”
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Drinking of wine
  • Sex/Nudity: Husband and wife kiss; kids in swimsuits; a young romance; a reference to “the talk” that all parents have with their kids
  • Violence/Crime: A game of dodgeball; school bullying; a kick to the face
  • Religion: Timothy’s appearance is described as “miraculous”

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.

Publication date: August 15, 2012