Sunday, January 12, 2014

Family Tales & Unexpected Road Trips: Brief Reviews of Two Films

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012) – It’s a tough balancing act to tell a good story that’s got one foot rooted in the real world, and another in the magical. Tim Burton has pulled this off in movies such as Big Fish (2003), but there are other cases where it doesn’t work at all, like Woody Allen’s Alice (1990). Director Peter Hedges’ The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a touching tale of a couple (Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Garner) that has been trying unsuccessfully to have a baby. One stormy night, they write all the best qualities they’d want in a child on pieces of paper. They place them in a box and bury it in the backyard. That same evening, a mysterious boy appears at their back door. He appears normal except for some leaves sprouting from the bottom of his legs. The boy says his name is Timothy, and addresses them as Mom and Dad. He says he's there for them. But who is he?

What follows is a seriocomic story of Timothy teaching his parents (and his extended family) some important lessons about life. Like the best fairy tales, there are moments of humor, sadness, triumph, loss, and ultimately, joy before the story is over. There are some good performances, especially by Garner and CJ Adams as Timothy. If (like me) you’re a fan of these types of sentimental films, you’ll enjoy this enchanting story. It's a touching, sentimental, extraordinary tale that will tug at your heartstrings. It didn’t make much of a splash when released theatrically, but it really is solid family entertainment. Highly recommended. It’s now available on DVD, Blu-ray and for digital download. Here’s a link to the film’s trailer:

The Guilt Trip (2012) – Andrew (Seth Rogen) has a problem. He’s about to embark on a cross-country trip to visit potential clients & try to sell a product he’s developed. A brief visit to his overbearing Mom (Barbra Streisand) has some unexpected consequences. She ends up going on the road with him. Of course, the usual comic misadventures & misunderstandings occur. As the trip continues, they end up growing further apart, then closer together, and finally come to understand each other better. And maybe they even learn something about each other….perhaps Mom isn't so bad after all?

Rogen can play this kind of affable nerd in his sleep these days, and he & Streisand work very well together. It’s truly a kick to see her playing the Mom here. When she’s on screen the movie shines. Otherwise, it’s a predictable but enjoyable comedy, that’s worth a look for fans of the two stars. Directed by Anne Fletcher, the movie’s story is actually based on a real life road trip that writer Dan Fogelman took with his Mom. The Guilt Trip is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, and for digital download. Here’s a link to the film's trailer:

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