There is certainly truth in advertising in the aptly titled "The Odd Life of Timothy Green." This is a bizarre piece of cinema that desperately tries to tug out the heartstrings, but comes off as a heavy-handed mess that never can find its stride.

"Timothy Green" tells the story of Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton), a married couple who a couple that is at the low point in their relationship when they learn they can not have children.

To get Cindy out of her depression, Jim comes up with the idea of writing down all the traits that their 'child' would have, put those traits in a box, and bury it in the garden in the back yard.

This sets the stage for a magical occurrence, with a young boy named Timothy (CJ Adams) sprouting from that box - claiming to be their son.

As the Greens introduce the child to friends and family, they start to realize Timothy is much more special than they originally thought.

In researching this movie, I discovered it's based on a novel. Clearly it's designed to be this heart-warming family fantasy, but I kept thinking as I watched it that the material seemed better suited for a horror film.

At least that could have strayed in a direction far more interesting than this sappy piece of formula. Director Peter Hedges has had experience in family dramas, directing films like "Dan in Real Life" and "Pieces of April," but he really isn't given much to work with. This is the kind of film where there are far more questions than answers, starting with why no one seems to question when this kid shows up.

The cast is stuck with characters that are really nothing more than typical movie cliches - ranging from Garner and Edgerton's overbearing work as the overprotective new parents to veteran actors like David Morse and Diane Wiest as those gruff kind of characters that show their soft side after getting to know the young boy.

There also this really contrived subplot involving the town, known as the pencil capital of the world, going through an economic downturn that could result the town's pencil factory shutting down.

About the only interesting thing in the film is a budding romance between Green and a young girl (Odeya Rush) who appreciates him for being different. Those are the only moments that felt the least bit authentic.

If "Timothy Green" could have focused more on that relationship, maybe this could have worked. Instead "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" proves to be odd - but not in a good way.

Grade: D



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