Australian Council on Children and the Media

Odd Life of Timothy Green, The

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Not recommended for children under 8, due to low level violence and mild thematic material

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Odd Life of Timothy Green, The
  • a review of Odd Life of Timothy Green, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 4 June 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to low level violence and mild impact thematic material
Children aged 5–8 Not recommended due to low level violence and mild impact thematic material
Children aged 8–13 OK with parental guidance
Children over the age of 13 Suitable for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Odd Life of Timothy Green, The
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: Very mild impact thematic material and violence
Length 104 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The Odd Life of Timothy Green is an enchanting Disney film that tells the story of a young couple, Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton), who dream of having a baby but can't. The movie opens with them telling an adoption panel why they would make good parents. Cindy and Jim do this by relating a tale of an amazing experience they had spending time with a young boy called Timothy (CJ Adams), who entered their lives unexpectedly one stormy night. Their story is told via a series of flashbacks and begins several months earlier when Cindy and Jim learn from their doctor that they won’t be able to conceive a child. In a bid to say goodbye to their dreams of having a child and move on, they write down on small pieces of paper all of the wonderful qualities they would wish their child to possess if they could have one. Cindy and Jim then place the pieces of paper in a wooden box and bury it in their garden. The night after, during a rainstorm, they discover a mud covered young boy called Timothy in their house, who claims he is their son. Cindy and Jim soon discover that he is both a wonderful and yet ‘odd’ young boy. He has green leaves growing on his lower legs and possesses all of the qualities they had wished for in a child of their own. Timothy not only changes the lives of Cindy and Jim, teaching them what they need to know about being parents, but changes the lives of everyone he comes into contact with.                   

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

This film contains thematic elements relating to: • Infertility; conception; adoption; parenting

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including occasional incidence of low-level violence and one incidence of school related bullying. Examples include:

  • a game of dodge ball involves a man inside a circle throwing a ball hard at a number of children,  and one by one eliminating them from the game. The last boy left in the game is Timothy, and we see the man throw the ball hard at Timothy hitting him in the head with the force of the blow knocking him to the ground; Timothy is uninjured.        
  • Timothy is bullied by two older boys with them smearing food over his face and head. Later when Timothy’s father confronts the bullies, their (the bullies) father accuses Timothy of “ratting “ out his sons, while the sons complain that they were just having fun and that Timothy didn’t even fight back.
  • Cindy tells a group of people that Timothy can’t swim. In a flashback scene Timothy jumps into a pool and sinks to the bottom were he remains sitting. A young girl notices Timothy failing to resurface and jumps into save him. The girl approaches Timothy and  tries to pull down his socks to see what he is hiding and in response Timothy kicks the girl in the face after which they both resurface. The girl is bleeding from the nose and we see some blood in the water.
  • During a soccer match, a father smacks his young son over the head for failing to perform.
  • A soccer coach tells his team’s members to hurt Timothy, the coach saying “Get that kid, take his knees out!”

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • After being awoken by a storm, Jim hears noises in his house and goes to investigate. When he finds nothing he goes back to bed but is alarmed when a blanket covered body (he mistakes for his wife) runs from the bedroom. Cindy and Jim chase the blanket-covered figure into the next room only to find a mud covered ten-year-old boy, Timothy. This scene implies that the mud-covered boy grew (during a magical rainstorm) from a small wooden box filled with wishes that Cindy and Jim buried in their garden.
  • Leaves grow from Timothy’s lower legs, and in one scene a man attempts to cut off the leaves with garden shears. The shears are unable to cut off the leaves and shatter in the attempt.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Timothy sits on a hospital bed talking to Uncle Bub (and making him laugh). Uncle Bub then has a coughing fit and a nurse and other family members rush into the room. Timothy looks frightened. The scene then cuts to Uncle Bub lying in a coffin with a smile on his face. 
  • Timothy’s parents have an argument and shout at each other, slamming doors and Cindy cries. Timothy becomes very distressed and he tells his parents to stop fighting.   

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

None of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Timothy’s mother tells him “All the kids you will meet today come from their mum’s tummies, you came from the garden”. Later Timothy asks a group of children his own age “So you all came from your Mum’s tummies, how was that?”
  • Timothy and a slightly older girl become close friends. Timothy’s mother says “he’s too young, this is too early” and then makes reference to needing to talk with Timothy inferring a “fact of life” type discussion.
  • We see a pre-teen girl at a pool wearing tight fitting shorts and a crop top that reveals her midriff in a sexy manner.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Cindy and Jim kiss each other on the lips and then enter their bedroom closing the door after; a subtle inference is implied that they engage in sexual activity.
  • Timothy and a slightly older girl hug each other. In a later scene Timothy tells his mother that he ‘more than liked’ the girl he was hugging.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Cindy and Jim drink a bottle of wine at home and become a little tipsy.

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language and name calling in this movie, including:

  • Hell; Oh god; shut up; freak; warthog; crazy; and stupid.

In a nutshell

The main messages from this movie are:

The Odd Life of Timothy Green is an enchanting Disney film that tells the story of a young couple who dream of having a baby of their own, but can't. Instead, they end up spending time with an ‘odd’ yet wonderful young boy called Timothy (CJ Adams) who enters their lives unexpectedly.  This is an emotional and dramatic film that both older children and adults will enjoy. However due to low level violence (including some bullying) and mild impact thematic material this film is not recommended for children under 8 years old.   

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • It is OK for parents to make mistakes. It is how the mistake is dealt with that is important.
  • It is OK to be different.
  • Never give up on your dreams.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • Acceptance of diversity: Timothy assists a young girl with a birthmark not to be afraid of being different with the girl eventually forming the self-esteem needed to publically display her birthmark.
  • Optimism: Timothy shows he is not afraid to try and fail and he always looks on the positive side of life.
  • Unconditional love: Timothy’s parents love Timothy as he is – accepting both his successes and failures

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the concept of:

  • Bullying –Timothy is bullied by both children and parents. Do parental attitudes toward bullying promote the acceptance of bullying? The bullies in the movie appear to have no consequences. Is this typical of what occurs in the real world? How could the attitude of a bully be changed?

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