Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Cinema File #47: "The Odd Life Of Timothy Green" Review

"If this boy can have leaves on his ankle, then we can make a pencil out of leaves. Let's get back to work!" - Actual line from this motherfucking movie.

I want to scream "Fuck This Movie!" at the top of my lungs, but for me to do that, it would presuppose that The Odd Life Of Timothy Green actually is a movie, and I'm fairly certain that this is not the case. Movies, at least I'm pretty sure based on prior experience, have a point. They have characters that things happen to, things to which they react in ways that illuminate who they are. People change and grow as events unfold and the intersection of personality, history, and causality forges something at least barely resembling a story. This is a movie. The Odd Life Of Timothy Green is something entirely different. I don't exactly know what, but whatever it is, the one thing I'm certain about is that it is by far the completest complete piece of shit I have seen all year.

The frame story of this movie-ish thing follows Jennifer Garner and the guy who plays her husband whose name I can't bring myself to care about looking up as they interview with an adoption agency, post magical experience. Here they tell the story of their time with Timothy, a boy they inadvertently summoned to life by writing down all the qualities they wanted in a son and burying them in a box in the backyard after finding out they couldn't have kids. They've learned from this experience that they want to adopt, because learning that you can't have kids wasn't enough to make this a viable alternative; they needed a magical fucking leaf child to brighten their lives before they could possibly even consider raising a child that came out of someone else's vagina. Seriously, in a world where thousands upon thousands of orphans live without parents, why is infertility always this crushing, end of the world thing? I get that it's hard, but if you want a kid, there are fucking options!

During this frame story, the adoption agency lady keeps letting them know that they are here to prove why they are able to be fit parents, and she keeps warning them that they only have so much time, and yet these fuckers not only proceed to tell a story about a magical child that sprang up from the ground with leaves on his ankles, but do so in the most lackadaisical way possible. When they run out of time, prompting an impassioned moment where they plead to be given the chance to finish the story, I don't hope for them to get that chance, but rather wish this government representative would do the sensible thing and reject their adoption request immediately. And yes, of course they get a new kid at the end, because when you claim to have raised a magical child that ultimately leaves behind no evidence of his magical existence save a few dead plants and the lives changed (I guess) in his wake, the government agency tasked with the welfare of orphaned children are just automatically going to be sold on that shit.

This movie is a heartwarming, family oriented fantasy as told by a cold, heartless computer spitting out an amalgam of nonsensical gibberish based on all the qualities of such films being fed into it and put together at random with no sense of tone, character, or purpose. It has all the trappings of a tale that's supposed to inspire...something, but doesn't begin to know how to do that, and just shits all over itself trying to evoke feelings it does not understand. We have the grown man and his distant father, the cold matriarchal woman who no one loves, the small town factory going under, and all the things that you would expect to come together and turn out all right because of this oh so magical boy, and I guess in the strictest sense they do, or at least we are meant to believe they do by the things that are happening on screen, but for the life of me I can't fathom how any of this is supposed to make sense, let alone be moving.

If a little boy crawled up out of your garden with preternatural knowledge of things beyond even your ken, leaves growing out of his body, and he claimed to be your son, would you just instantly trust it? Wouldn't you be at least a little bit skeptical of this, and think maybe, just maybe, this was a fucking pod person who is going to kill you in your sleep? That would have been an interesting movie. Instead, we have a character whose "odd life" consists of nothing even remotely weird or amazing or awe inspiring in the slightest, even as everyone around him is weirded out, amazed, and awed. Apart from the circumstances of his "birth" and his unique physiology below the knees, there is nothing "odd" about Timothy. Okay, he's kind of goofy, more knowing than most, and sometimes he stands really still and tries to absorb sunlight, but more often it just comes off as mild autism as much as anything else.

And of course he dies at the end. Fuck spoilers, this movie sucks so bad, it truly doesn't matter. His leaves are gradually falling off, and when they're all gone, so is he. He knows and accepts his fate, but makes sure to wait until the last minute to tell the nice people he made fall in love with him that they're about to be childless again. And the adoption agency keeps saying they're gonna check up on this story, and if anything doesn't check out, that's it, no new kid. The ending implies that somehow this ridiculous story did check out, even though apart from the testimony of a few townies, the only witness to Timothy's mystical arrival and disappearance is the Greens. More likely, they would have found out that there was a kid, and that he was last seen by a group of seemingly insane people. How much better would this movie have been if it was purely the aftermath of Timothy's non-adventures, where this small town of now hopeful people have to prove that they didn't ritualistically murder a small child, harvest style?

We'll never know, because this is not that movie. This is a thing that expects me to accept it's whimsical bullshit without any demonstration of it or justification for it. Its now the second movie with Jennifer Garner and the theme of adoption that I've seen in a month's time, and I have to now wonder if she's always been this terrible. I always liked her in Alias, and Elektra not withstanding she's never been all that bad until now. Who knows? Perhaps this movie is just a black hole from which talent cannot escape. It certainly sucked up any sense of child like wonder it was trying to rekindle in me. Now I'm dead in side.

Thanks movie. 
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