When the opportunity to discuss with The Odd Life of Timothy Green with Director, Peter Hedges, and Co-star, Joel Edgerton, I was thrilled. The story of how an infertile couple receives a son into their life is told with such love and tenderness. I would expect nothing less of a director associated with projects such as What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, Dan in Real Life, and Pieces of April.
Timothy, played by C.J. Adams appears rather unexpectedly into the life of Jim and Cindy Green. As each moment unfolds with their new boy, we begin to see how parenting is not only about the child, but the change in the parent. The kind of parent we become is a legacy of our own childhood experiences. The parent figure we were given – whether a mother, father, aunt, uncle, or other – becomes a guiding force to us once we are placed into the lead role as an adult. Nothing about parenting is easy and this movie addresses that fact with the Green family.
The story is located in Stanleyville, which is a fictitious town representing the classic American community. Filmed in Georgia locations such as Newnan (Crudstaff Mansion), Newborn (The Green’s home), Monroe (the pencil factory scenes), Decatur (Nursery and Soccer Scenes), Rex, Alpharetta (Wooded scenes), and Canton. The Musgrave pencil factor in Shelbyville, Tennessee was the location for the pencil factory’s detailed shots.
“What I really wanted the movie to do was to remind us that we only have so much time.” Says the director, Peter Hedges. “Time is a big theme in the film — Tick-tock from the very beginning. We only have so much time. And you only get your parents for so long, the kids hear that, but the parents need to be reminded that you only get your kids for so long. What does that mean? Whenever you know in anything in your life that you have limited time, you appreciate it more, you are more present for it, you don’t take it for granted. It doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. There isn’t a perfect parent. If under everything you do is an undeniable love…I’m pretty confident that the only unconditional love that there is in the world, that I know of, is what a parent feels for a child.” And as a result Hedges reflects, “If you miss that then what do you have? If we are not careful we are going to miss it. It will never ‘be’ again. What do you have then?”
Actor, Joel Edgerton mentioned his memories of the father son relationship he experienced with his father in Australia. He drew on these experiences for the role of Jim Green. “This film actually taught me a lot about – in hindsight – my relationship with my father.” Edgerton went onto explain that his perception of his parents knew everything, was right and he considered them heroes from his experiences as a child.
“My relationship with my father is that he asks me questions and I answer them. If I try to ask him questions or inquire into his life, he always turns the conversation back to me. It’s very one sided and dignified from his part.” Edgerton continues to say that he now realizes that his parents were just a couple of kids in their twenties who had a couple of sons. “They figured it out as they went along. They never had the answers, but they bluffed their way through being parents and they did a very good job of it.”
“The movie reflected that for me. Having this relationship with Big Jim [The Grandfather role played by David Morse] and Jim Green and I sort of have that relationship with my old man where everything I do is about trying to impress him. Even though we are well and truly balanced in our relationship. I know now that I could just walk down the street and my father would be proud.” Edgerton explains that his mother could write a letter praising his accomplishments and that would be meaningful in his life, but a simple pat on the shoulder from his father would speak even more emotion from his reserved father. His father-son relationship enabled him to create the emotions necessary to portray the unresolved connection between Jim Green and his father, Big Jim.
My viewing of The Odd Life of Timothy Green occurred the week after the Colorado Movie Theater incident, so I left the theater with a warm respect for the issues and sentiments told in the story. This is a movie which your whole family will enjoy. The simple message may seem only sweet at first, but eventually your thoughts begin to digest the legacy left behind by Timothy. The way in which Jim and Cindy Green are prepared by each moment with their special child born of wishes enables them to face their future with hope. Cindy’s sister and her smothering ways, speak loudly to our society’s tendency to hover over children in earnest efforts to protect them from their own mistakes. I found myself tearing up at times during the movie at the clarity of these messages.
After the movie ended my eight year old daughter jumped up from her seat spontaneously and gave me a big hug. I gladly accepted that hug. My teenager smiled as she commented on her preference for an action flick, but truly enjoyed the Timothy Green story. In reply to her I countered that the world needs more of Timothy’s magic and love. I bet you’ll have a sweet spot in your heart for this movie also.
THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN
U.S. Release date: August 15, 2012
Running time: 100 mins.
Disney presents “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” with Ahmet Zappa, Scott Sanders and Jim Whitaker producing, story by Ahmet Zappa and screenplay by Peter Hedges. “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is slated for release on August 15, 2012.
Cast: Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, Dianne Wiest, CJ Adams, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ron Livingston, M. Emmet Walsh, Odeya Rush, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Lois Smith, with David Morse and Common
Director: Peter Hedges
Producers: Ahmet Zappa, Scott Sanders, Jim Whitaker
Executive Producers: John Cameron, Mara Jacobs
Story by: Ahmet Zappa
Screenplay by: Peter Hedges