Published Aug 16, 2012Be neurotic, self-absorbed control freaks and you shall be rewarded. That seems to be the disturbing, unintended message of this trite and deceptively deplorable exercise in reinforcing notions of middle-class entitlement.
There is nothing endearing about Cindy (Jennifer Garner, Elektra) and Jim (Joel Edgerton, Animal Kingdom) Green. Any chance we have of identifying with their despair over not being able to conceive a child to complete their idyllic family image is washed away by the film's clumsy narrative framing device.
In order to prove their worth to an adoption agency, Cindy and Jim awkwardly recount the unbelievable story of Timothy, going so far as to pause mid-tale to ask the interviewers (and, by proxy, the audience) if they're still with them. All but the most saccharine-loving rubes won't be.
To combat the grief of infertility, the couple write down the characteristics their dream spawn would posses, put them in a box and burry it outside. One isolated meteorological phenomena later, a ten-year-old boy covered in mud appears like a horror movie villain, creepily flitting about the house unseen for no discernable reason before settling down to play in the unused baby room.
He's not a form of golem or homunculus, but a sort of plant child gifted to the emotionally stunned couple by an undefined, secular Gaia allusion. It doesn't take long for everyone to accept the mystery boy — "don't ask too many question" is about the extent of Jim's explanation to family and friends.
It quickly becomes clear that the only reason Cindy and Jim want a child is out of the insecure desire to lord arbitrary superiority over her affluent and dismissive sister (Rosemarie DeWitt) and his domineering, testosterone-driven father (David Morse).
What follows is a disgusting and insulting parade of clichés where Timothy touches the lives of everyone around him with his precocious honesty and we're supposed to think his "parents" learn vital lessons about the misguided lure of homogenization after treating him as cipher to enhance their social standing for the whole story.
There's an unnecessary and ill-conceived subplot involving Timothy crushing on a fellow "freak" with a large birthmark, but what really sticks out is the gross notion that the ideals embodied by these disingenuous, wannabe parents are in any way a sign of well-adjusted adults ready to nurture another human life. Be a better parent: don't expose your children to this. (Buena Vista)