Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'The Odd Life of Timothy Green' Rooted in Director's Real-Life 'Parental Crimes'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'The Odd Life of Timothy Green' Rooted in Director's Real-Life 'Parental Crimes'

Article excerpt

Green parents bumble over magical boy


TORONTO - The sudden parents in "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" make one mistake after another as they bumble through attempts to care for a young boy who mysteriously emerges from their garden.

It's a Disney film that aims its lessons squarely at the adults instead of the kids and writer-director Peter Hedges admits to drawing on his own failings as a father for inspiration.

"Selfishly, I'm a parent and I felt the window closing on my time as a parent," Hedges says during recent stop in Toronto to promote the film.

"My kids were young teenagers when I started working on this project and I felt like it was an opportunity to maybe make peace with some of the crimes I've committed as a parent but also maybe get some new perspectives on some approaches I've been taking and make some changes."

The magical origins of this instant family are pure fantasy but the awkward adult missteps are very real, notes Hedges, who delicately explored the adult-kid dynamic with an Oscar-nominated screenplay for "About A Boy."

In "The Odd Life of Timothy Green," Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton play wannabe parents Cindy and Jim Green.

Despondent after being told they can't conceive a child, they spend a drunken evening writing down the qualities their wished-for kid would have and burying the list in the yard.

Following a sudden rainstorm hours later, a muddy boy appears in their home claiming he "came from the garden" and nonchalantly calling them mom and dad.

He brushes aside questions about the strange green leaves sprouting from his legs and Jim and Cindy can't resist imposing their idealized expectations on the wide-eyed child. It's too late when they realize he's keeping a painful secret.

Hedges calls that "the unknowable-ness of children," noting it's impossible to know or understand everything they go through, even if they are your own offspring.

Edgerton says he was intrigued by that notion especially, slipping into an account of a decades-old trauma he revealed to his parents only recently -- a particularly strict babysitter they left him and his brother with for five weeks. …

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