Cindy and Jim Green have a beautifully quaint life, but are given unfortunate news when they discover that Cindy is unable to conceive a child. Devastated by the news, Jim tries to cheer her up by brainstorming all of the things they would want in a child. Writing all of them down on paper, they place all of their dreams in a box and bury it in the garden. A freak storm explodes in the middle of the night, waking up the Greens and everyone else nearby. They go downstairs to investigate and find that the garden has been destroyed and dirt has been tracked into the house. In the kitchen, they find a young boy with leaves growing from his ankles. Timothy calls Cindy and Jim his mom and dad, changing their lives immediately. As they spend more time with him, they learn that he is everything they had wished for and they begin to live the life of their dreams.
Starring: Jennifer Garner (Cindy Green), Joel Edgerton (Jim Green), CJ Adams (Timothy Green), Odeya Rush (Joni Jerome), Shohreh Aghdashloo (Evette Onat), Rosemarie DeWitt (Brenda Best), David Morse (James Green Sr.), M. Emmet Walsh (Uncle Bub), Lois Smith (Aunt Mel), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Reggie), Dianne Wiest (Ms. Bernice Crudstaff), Ron Livingston (Franklin Crudstaff), James Rebhorn (Joseph Crudstaff)
As a Disney movie, the acting is a little more light-hearted than it could be for a potentially dramatic topic. Both Garner and Edgerton play their roles with quite a bit of energy and mystery. CJ Adams is similar in a lot of ways but his character also unfortunately lacks a bit of depth. The mystery over Timothy’s life leaves him lacking the opportunity to show more than base desires that were put in the box. Rush also seemed a bit underdeveloped as the “love” interest and seemingly disappeared at the end of the story.
Taking this story and crafting it into a film was Peter Hedges. Disney has highlighted infertility in the past (think Up), but this film took a more mystical approach with a wish becoming a dream come true. The Greens struggled with their news, and even the dreaming activity was not enough on its own to help them cope with their sense of loss. Timothy’s arrival was an incredible shock, but they quickly realized that they did not have everything figured out about how to take care of a child. Regardless of their level of preparedness, they seemed to figure it out as they went and treasured every moment with him. As the leaves on his ankles started to change and fall off, Timothy prepared to leave them but did not alert them to his coming departure. In the end, he had prepared them for what it would mean to take care of a child and opened their eyes to the prospect of adoption.
For all of the fun and positivity in this film, there are some gaps in this story. When they got the bad news, they did not even consider adoption as a viable option. Instead, they went with dreaming, though they never imagined that they would have a kid appear out of the garden. This was not so bad, but his arrival brought no questions from the family, who never really seemed concerned with this sudden surprise. Moving forward in the story, Timothy made an unlikely friendship with Joni, but the purpose of their relationship seemed weak at best. She appeared to be his opposite, but she also seemed to somehow understand him and his situation. At the end of the story, she just faded into the background, leaving her storyline a fleeting memory in the greater story.
This is a fun, family-friendly movie that is still meaningful even with its flaws. Timothy appeared to be the type of son that many families would be happy to have and the story ended with a great warm feeling of family.
Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5