Dave's Rating:

3.5

Cabbage Patch Kid. Literally.

If Pinocchio met Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer met one of the carnivorous plants from the vintage sci-fi/horror movie The Day of the Triffids met Haley Joel Osment in A.I., their collective DNA, wiring and wood chips would form Timothy Green (CJ Adams). A boy who's not quite a real boy and not quite not one, either, he springs up overnight from the garden of a forlorn, childless couple (Jennifer Gardner, Joel Edgerton). He's an organic, 10-year-old talking sprout covered in mud, calling them "Mom" and "Dad" without provocation, the fantasy fulfillment of their wildest, most extreme attachment-parenting fantasies.

And what extremely attached parents they are. Through each episode of Timothy's brand new existence -- meeting extended family, going to school, swimming in a pool with socks on (to hide the leaves growing from his shins -- see Rudolph above), music recitals for which he's unprepared and confusing sports competitions for which he's uncoordinated, Mom and Dad hover and shield and protect and encourage until they've exhausted their last reservoirs of energy. In real life, this would turn any child into a complete monster, much like the one who appeared on a recent episode of Louie who defecated into the comedian's bathtub and then explained, "My mother says any choice I make is okay because I love myself."

But this is a Disney film and Timothy is no poop-monster and Mom and Dad are giving him their hearts and souls. In return, Timothy gives his to everyone and everything around him, including the town's slowly dying industry, a family-owned pencil factory. Yep, a pencil factory. So intent on vintage heartwarmth and cozy huggability is this operation that, in addition to its bold stance on adopting random children who show up in your vegetable garden it also flies a daring pro-pencil agenda in a world full of iPhones. Script-wise, it's just another way to allude to Pinocchio and trees and leaves, but you also get the overwhelming feeling that if this movie had its way, pencils really would dominate the handwriting landscape once again. It is impossible to hate a thing this much in love with that kind of dorky impossibility.

Your level of love for it will rest in your ability to indulge in a fresh-scrubbed apple pie fantasy parable on its own weird terms, to cry when a sweetly obvious story commands you to cry and to cheer on an occasionally annoying example of perfect childhood non-conformity. In exchange for your indulgence Timothy will love you back and perform a daily sun salutation that baffles everyone in his on-screen world. You, however, are smart and will immediately recognize it for the photosynthesis it so clearly is.

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