A most peculiar drama, indeed. As I watched The Odd Life of Timothy Green I kept thinking of how rare it is to find a touching, genuine piece of film that literally grows on you. Nothing especially grand in scale, just a simple fantasy set in reality. Director Peter Hedges has fashioned a sweet tale with sensibility, one that despite inspiring some eye-rolling and struggling to maintain a cohesive structure, manages to breathe kindness and spirit.
Disney has surely expanded its range in films in recent years, in terms of tone, and I suppose soon enough one would arrive in the form of a married couple who cannot have a child. Jim and Cindy Green, played with warmth by the duo of Joel Edgerton (Warrior) and Alias star Jennifer Garner, have almost given up hope on having a child of their very own. In a flash-forward scene toward the opening, the pair shares with an adoption agency of why they are suitable parents. They tell their miraculous story, of their short and certainly odd experience with a 10-year-old boy who enters their lives.
For decades the Disney animated short films, starring the classic gang of Mickey and friends, dominated the screens with innocence and cheer. But that era is not one forgotten. Merely it exists in the past tense, just like the blockbuster musicals that made Disney, Disney. Nevertheless, Walt Disney Animation Studios is experiencing a period of re-growth, what some would argue could be the “third renaissance.” Tangled and the forthcoming Wreck-It Ralph are believed to represent that new beginning. In any case, the art of the short film within the studio is also undergoing a fantastic period of re-interest and ingenuity.
For much of the last decade, when Disney animation was arguably struggling in producing quality features, both in their theatrical and direct-to-video releases, developing short films was placed on the back-burner. Perhaps not intentionally, but they were relegated to little-seen pictures, film festivals, and bonus features on DVDs. The Annie Award-winning short Lorenzo, a charming little tale about a cat’s tail that takes over its life, is utterly creative. But where was this long-delayed piece played to audiences? Try the 2004 Kate Hudson romantic comedy Raising Helen, which underwhelmed at the box office. How was it decided that a short like this be paired with a PG-13 comedy starring Goldie Hawn’s daughter? Though each of these films is adorable in its own right, one must wonder why these were paired together.