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Originally published Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 3:03 PM

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'The Odd Life of Timothy Green' is a humdrum fairy tale

"The Odd Life of Timothy Green," directed by Peter Hedges and starring Jennifer Garner and Joe Edgerton, is a humdrum fairy tale about a couple who discover they have a magical child. Though it's not a great film, writes Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald, it is not without its pleasures.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 2.5 stars

'The Odd Life of Timothy Green,' with Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, CJ Adams, Dianne Wiest, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ron Livingston, M. Emmett Walsh. Written and directed by Peter Hedges, from a story by Ahmet Zappa. 115 minutes. Rated PG for mild thematic elements and brief language. Several theaters.

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A pleasant if occasionally humdrum fairy tale, "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" lets us spend two hours in the company of some very nice people. Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton) live in a picture-perfect farmhouse in the picture-perfect fictional town of Stanleyville, known as "the pencil capitol of the world." (Jim works at the local pencil factory, where his nasty boss is named Mr. Crudstaff; this movie is sweet but not at all subtle.) The Greens' idyllic-seeming life is marred by sadness: They long to be parents but struggle with infertility and adoption bureaucracy. One night, vowing to set their worries behind them, Cindy and Jim write down all of their dreams for their child and then bury the papers in the garden. That very evening, oddly enough, a little boy named Timothy (CJ Adams) arrives on their doorstep, covered with mud, saying that he belongs to them.

It's sufficient to say that Timothy is a magical child (something we figure out long before the Greens do), that his time on Earth is limited (ditto), that he brings out the good in everyone he meets and that he seems so uncannily like the young Haley Joel Osment in "The Sixth Sense" that I kept wondering when he would see dead people. (He doesn't.)

It's hard to imagine exactly who this movie's theoretical audience might be — it has the gentle, naive simplicity of a children's story but seems too deliberately paced and adult-focused for young viewers — but "Timothy Green" is not without pleasures. Among them: a lovely assortment of autumn colors and small-town gingerbread houses, a nicely grumpy performance by Dianne Wiest as Cindy's boss (she's also a Crudstaff) and the heart-melting smile of Jennifer Garner — an actress with an uncanny ability to convey uncomplicated, believable kindness.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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