'Odd Life Of Timothy Green' Pushes Too Hard

The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a "when you wish upon a star" fable in the old school Disney style. Though the film's heart is pure, its execution is so cloying and contrived, it brings on tears of frustration.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

A new movie in theaters today is titled "The Odd Life of Timothy Green." And film critic, Kenneth Turan, found the movie, itself, odd.

KENNETH TURAN: "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" is a when you wish upon a star fable in the old school Disney style. It's just the kind of inspirational family-friendly comfort food it feels churlish to rebuff. But though the film's heart is pure, its execution is so cloying and contrived it brings on tears of frustration.

"Odd Life's" underlying premise is that if you wish hard enough, miracles will happen.

The Greens, played by Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton, wish for a child.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN")

JOEL EDGERTON: (as Jim Green) Just for tonight, can we have a kid? You know, that the kind of kid that you always believe.

JENNIFER GARNER: (as Cindy Green) And honest. You want the truth teller.

EDGERTON: (as Jim Green) Yeah, I do. I want one like that.

GARNER: (as Cindy Green) Yeah. But a kid can't be perfect.

EDGERTON: (as Jim Green) I want one of those really perfect kids.

GARNER: (as Cindy Green) How about this? Honest to a fault.

EDGERTON: (as Jim Green) Yeah.

GARNER: (as Cindy Green) Yes.

EDGERTON: (as Jim Green) We have a winner.

GARNER: (as Cindy Green) Yes.

EDGERTON: (as Jim Green) How great (unintelligible) are you picturing?

GARNER: (as Cindy Green) And you were terrible as a toddler.

EDGERTON: (as Jim Green) That's not true.

(as Jim Green) How about this? Just once, our kid - oh man, that kid - got to score the winning goal?

TURAN: The Greens write these traits down on pieces of paper that are buried in the family garden. A freak thunderstorm dumps a ton of rain on the site, and before you known it, 10-year-old Timothy, covered in dirt, comes out of the garden and into their lives.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN")

CJ ADAMS: (as Timothy Green) Hi.

GARNER: (as Cindy Green) Hi.

ADAMS: (as Timothy Green) I'm Timothy. There's something you need to know about me. I came from the garden.

TURAN: He looks like any other boy, except for the leaves around his ankles.

Though it's grounded in fantasy, "Odd Life" is really about the Greens' drive to be the best parents ever. So they over-protectively over parent Timothy like crazy.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN")

EDGERTON: (as Jim Green) What did you put in there? He's about to fall over.

GARNER: (as Cindy Green) Anything he might need - notebooks, pencils. Oh, there's a box of tissues on the bottom too, Band-Aids. There's a whole first aid-kit, actually just in case, a variety of healthy snacks and...

TURAN: Watching helicopter parents in a movie is just as boring as it is in real life. It's not only the Greens who push too hard as parents, this entire film pushes too hard to make us love it.

The problem with "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" is not the oddness of Timothy's entry into the world, but how calculated this movie becomes once he arrives. Wishing upon a star may have been enough to make a good movie once upon a time, but not anymore.

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Of course, one question Hollywood faced in recent weeks, was whether moviegoers would be out in full force or home following the drama at the Olympics.

Well, Variety reports "The Bourne Legacy" earned less than expected on opening weekend because people were watching Sunday's closing ceremony in London.

The latest Bourne movie took in just over $38 million. That was two million less than initially expected, so blame the Olympics - or was it no Matt Damon?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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