If you are thinking of having children someday, there’s something that you absolutely need to know. Forget all that nonsense about sleep deprivation and lifestyle upheaval and your bank account being drained by an adorable little peanut — what you need to be forewarned about is this: Being a parent means you are going to see some terrible, terrible movies.
Yes, you may swear up and down that you will never pay cash money to subject yourself to 90 minutes of CGI chipmunks and their “Squeakquel,” and you may try over and over again to get your kid to appreciate great cinema (“You see, sweetheart? Mr. Orange is actually an undercover cop…”) but I am telling you this: the instant you see those little eyes light up at a commercial for some inane flick about animated ponies, you will be in the ticket line faster than you can say “Do they sell alcohol at this theater?”
And while I have proved that my love for my daughter is strong enough to withstand multiple viewings of animated movies with more than their fair share of butt jokes (hey — butts are funny, no arguments here), I draw the line at the live action family film bullshit. You know the type: Dolphin Tale (Harry Connick Jr. + dolphins) , Big Miracle (Drew Barrymore + whales), Cats & Dogs (animals + CGI mouths), and — the very worst offenders of all — heavy-handed tear-jerking fare like today’s topic of discussion, The Odd Life of Timothy Green.
Before I even start, I feel I need to share that I am–in most instances–a giant softie, especially since having a daughter. I will cry at greeting cards and commercials for laundry detergent, and don’t you even THINK about bringing Milo and Otis up in here or I will have to take a day off work to recover.
It’s the subtle stuff that gets me, really: a simple four-word phrase on a card, a final tagline on a commercial (here’s the laundry detergent commercial, in case you’re curious — if you don’t cry at that, you’re a damn monster), the subtle piano music that underscores the wordless moments between two animals. By that same token, I have absolutely zero patience for the stuff that’s designed to make you cry through a series of clumsy, overused scenarios (don’t even get me started on The Notebook, that ridiculous load) and storylines that all but shout HERE’S A MOVIE ABOUT A QUIRKY KID WHO’S DIFFERENT YET SPECIAL, NOW GO CRY AT IT.
This is why, when I saw the trailer for The Odd Life of Timothy Green, I had to fight the urge to barf in my lap. Please to witness:
In case you wisely didn’t watch that (or in case you did and have a self-destructive need to learn more), allow me to give you a synopsis: Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton play married couple Cindy and Jim Green, who have received the devastating news that they cannot conceive. They get drunk and write down all the characteristics they think their would-be child might embody, bury the list in the yard, then wake up to find some muddy 10-year-old boy (C.J. Adams) hanging out in their house. He says his name is Timothy and claims to be their son, so they’re like “Seems legit,” and decide to raise him as their own. Also, he has fucking plants growing out of his legs.
Not feeling hostile yet? Well, it’s when you delve deeper into this movie that things get painfully lame: Jim works at a pencil factory (THE FUCK?!), the costume designer inexplicably saw fit to dress Jennifer Garner in clothing exclusively from the Sexless Matron line, and–according to the photos I’ve found–there is solid evidence of a dreaded family-lip-synching scene somewhere in the movie.
I’m honestly not sure what the message of this movie is. The cure for infertility is booze and backyard burials? You should always raise weird muddy intruders as your own? Don’t worry if fucking hostas start growing out of your kid’s legs? Jennifer Garner needs a better agent?
Look, I’m not looking to feed my kid a steady diet of animation or deprive her of all age-appropriate live action films, I just see no need to let her watch formulaic, heavy-handed schlock like Timothy Green when she could be cutting her comic teeth on The Princess Bride and Muppet flicks, or culturing an appreciation for the movie musical with Mary Poppins and Guys and Dolls. Kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for, and are also capable of understanding and enjoying the finer things in life (read: movies with more symbolism than fart jokes). Spend your movie money wisely, and maybe the studios will start giving us more quality and less