Director sees parenting flaws while making ‘Odd Life of Timothy Green’
Published Monday, August 20, 2012 2:06PM EDT
It isn’t every day that a 10-year-old boy enters the world by sprouting out of a garden bed. That odd occurrence and the joy that it brings to one childless couple is the heart of Walt Disney Pictures’ new fantasy film, “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.”
Based on a story conceived by Ahmet Zappa, the writer-producer son of musician Frank Zappa, this new movie is a modern-day fable about parenting.
“When I first heard the concept for this story, it seemed to me like a great jumping-off point for a look at parenting today and what it means to love,” said American director Peter Hedges.
“It’s not easy to be a good or wise parent. You do the best you can. But this story reminds people of that reality and of the importance to treat time with our children as precious. I really liked that,” Hedges told CTVNews.ca in August during a stop in Toronto.
This tale’s whimsical look at family connections instantly grabbed Hedges, who wrote the screenplay for the oddball 1993 drama, “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.”
As this latest film begins, Hedges introduces moviegoers to Cindy and Jim Green, a devoted, but childless couple played by Jennifer Garner and Aussie actor Joel Edgerton.
After a battery of medical tests and infertility treatments, the hopeful couple learns that they will never be able to produce a child of their own.
Devastated by the news, the Greens drive back to their home in Stanleyville, the fictional pencil capital of the United States. But for one last time, they dream about the child they wanted to raise and love.
With a bottle of wine to fuel their efforts, Cindy and Jim write down every trait their child would have had, including bravery and a “rocking” talent for music. Those wish-filled scraps of paper end up buried in a box in their garden, along with Greens’ last hopes of becoming parents.
Later that night, in the midst of a freak rainstorm, a mud-slathered boy rises out of the buried box and knocks on the Green’s door.
The chestnut-haired foundling played 12-year-old CJ Adams has every trait the couple wished for, as well as ivy leaves growing from his shins. But that oddity doesn’t matter to the Greens, who embrace the boy as their own during hisshort stay with them.
For 38-year-old co-star, Edgerton, newcomer Adams became the emotional anchor to this project.
“Without the right kid in this role, ‘Timothy’ would have been a tough sell for audiences -- especially those who have come to expect explosions and robots in movies. But CJ draws you in. He’s the glue that makes anyone from anywhere connect with this story,” Edgerton, 38, told CTVNews.ca.
Hedges interviewed more than 1,000 child actors before Adams was signed to co-star with Garner and Edgerton.
“He’s a remarkable guy. At a certain level CJ knew more about Timothy than I did,” Hedges said in an interview featured Monday on CTV’s Canada AM.
Hedges even reviewed his own, real-life parenting skills as he shot this oddball tale of love and family.
“I took a look at my own life and realized that I was overinvesting in my kids,” Hedges told Canada AM.
“I realized that I had to get out of the way and let them be who they wanted to be, not what I wanted them to be,” he said.