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Jim and Cindy Green have been told they cannot have children, a heartbreak many couples are familiar with. In an effort to move on, they write down all their hopes and dreams for the hoped-for child, put them in a box, and bury them in the garden. During the night a child sneaks into their home and into their hearts, but there’s something a little different about him.

This sweet little movie exists in a realm outside of reality, and to enjoy it viewers need to be willing to enter that realm. One refreshingly real point is that the parents are kind and loving, but they aren’t perfect—even though the child, Timothy, pretty much is. Here’s a family movie that might just help family members understand each other. Why do mom and dad do the things they do? Sometimes out of love and wisdom, sometimes out of selfish motives, sometimes out of pain from their own past experiences.

The story goes back and forth between Timothy’s story and Cindy and Jim’s interview with an adoption agency. While the adoption agency scenes, unfortunately, tend to point out the ridiculousness of the premise, one particular moment defines the difficulties of being the parent you wish to be. When the agency representative asks them what they would do differently with their next child, their answer is that they would make better mistakes. Different mistakes. And that’s how it is. Every child is a new opportunity to make different mistakes than before. It’s part and parcel of the parenting gig.

Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton bring a level of earnest believability to the film as the childless couple, and Timothy is played with a sort of knowing innocence by young C. J. Adams. The acting makes up for some of the contrivances of the plot.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a hopeful and reflective piece of magical realism, and it’s blessedly free of the hyperactive mania of some other family movies. It encourages compassion and care for the outsider. It may not be a must-see movie, but it’s not a bad way to spend some time with the family. (Disney)

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