Saturday, August 25, 2012

Movie Review: The Odd Life of Timothy Green

The reviews I read (that I agree with) said that you have to approach the movie without any cynicism whatsoever, which is extremely hard to do.  It also was obviously cut short, with many good moments left on the cutting room floor.  I keep wondering how it would have worked with a novel, written by someone who could pull it off.  The best part of the movie is the actors.  It could have been atrocious, but the actors pulled off a very barren script and made it worth watching.  The same cannot be said for, say, the latest Star Wars movies,  (and no, I'm not gonna pick on Jake Lloyd here).  C.J. Adams carries the whole movie on his shoulders, and does it with every inflection, every raise of the eyebrow.  He's the Haley Joel Osment of this decade.  Let's hope he doesn't mess it up like HJO did. Joel Edgerton and the other supporting cast did a likewise magnificent job.  Also, the music score was great.  I wish I would have listened to the soundtrack before I went to see the movie.  I did that with Where the Wild Things Are, and it was amazing!

Ahmet Zappa, who wrote the script, obviously is highly intelligent, using references to literature all throughout.  For instance, the story takes place around a pencil factory.  Henry David Thoreau worked at a pencil factory early on, who famously wrote in Walden about "marching to the beat of a different drum."  Timothy Green certainly does that.  He's also very much a naturalist, working with his girl friend (Odeya Rush) to make the leaf palace.  Also, the Pencil theme is famous because of an essay by Leonard Reed, (a prior blog goes into that) who goes into all the people who make a single pencil, all the individual jobs that go into constructing the eraser, the wood, the graphite. It is a magnificent essay of the free-market world, with each worker supporting the other.  And while the movie has a decidedly anti-capitalist tone, the idea that individuals, working together, can support and lift up each other, creating, as it were, a better mouse trap, is a wonderful message for today's world.

The main criticism I have is the framed effect they use with the Adoption Office.  I wonder how it would have changed to leave that part out.  It gives away the ending, right at the start.  You know what will happen all throughout, and it puts a sad tug the whole time (probably intended.)

Speaking of that sad tug, I walked out of the movie feeling much like I did when I saw Pay it Forward. I probably would have cried at some point, but I didn't have time to.  I had to go to work afterwards, and there just wasn't time.  And that got me to thinking, we just don't have the time to experience all the emotions that come with our lives.  We're too busy living at 45 when we should be at 33 and1/3.  Try playing a 33 record at 45 on a turntable.  The singers sound like chipmunks, and you lose so much of the emotional pull of the music involved.  Barry White would become very un-Barry Whitish, if you get my meaning.  Sometimes it's best to be like Thoreau, to watch the ants go back and forth.

In the end, I would put this movie in the same category with Pay it Forward, A.I., Where the Wild Things Are, (all underrated movies that are some of my most favorite) which are movies about kids, but definitely not for kids.  Disney's commercials  for the movie on their own channel are actually misleading in how "supernatural" CJ Adams character actually is. In fact, he's just a normal kid, with leaves growing out of his legs.

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