'Puzzle' is Well Made, but a Few Pieces are Missing

Based on the film Rompecabezas, Puzzle is one of those little-known independent films that sneaks into theaters with little to no fanfare, although the fact that it is being promoted “from the producer of Little Miss Sunshine” should help it get noticed somewhat. Puzzle is a quiet, little film about a woman who discovers that jigsaw puzzles are the key to changing her life. While the subject matter doesn’t sound all that exciting, the film really isn’t about puzzles but instead about one finding their voice, or so it appears. It’s also a message film that has its own agenda expecting the audience to agree with the choices of the main character and applaud her “brave” behavior. Frankly, it just feels manipulative.

Directed by Marc Turtletaub, Puzzle’s most impactful scene comes within the first few minutes. We see Agnes (Kelly MacDonald) cleaning up the house and they decorating it for a birthday party. Then we see her serving appetizers while being ignored by the guests. …

Disney’s ‘Timothy’ is an Odd but Beautiful Movie

Jennifer Garner, C. J. Adams and Joel Edgerton star in
Disney's "The Odd Life of Timothy Green."


Disney’s new The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a quiet gem of a movie, but it is questionable if audiences at large will really appreciate it. While suitable for the whole family, it is doubtful if children will really enjoy this movie or not. It is basically a fairy tale for adults; parents in fact. This isn’t a realistic story – it’s an allegory about parenthood. It’s a fantasy movie - almost Twilight Zoneish. You have to accept every story element or you will not “get” the story.

Created by Academy Award-nominated writer and director, Peter Hedges, Timothy isn’t much different than other famous tales about adults wanting children but not being able to have them the traditional way such as Tom Thumb or Pinocchio. In this case, it is Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton), a happily married couple who can’t wait to start a family but even with medical intervention, can’t. After the disappointing news Cindy says, “We’ll get a dog” and in the same breath cries, “I don’t want a dog!” It is heartbreaking to watch.

Timothy (C. J. Adams) gets dried off
from new mom Cindy (Jennifer Garner)
One night Jim suggests that the couple write down all of the characteristics their child would have if they were given one. They select the name, “Timothy” his looks, his skills, his talents, everything. Then they carefully place the papers in a wooden box and bury it in the backyard saying goodbye to their dream. (This is similar to when Jane and Micheal wrote down the qualities of a perfect nanny in Disney’s “Mary Poppins” and the note was sent up the chimney.) To their surprise a dirty and naked boy shows up in their house. He tells them that his name is Timothy and calls them mom and dad. The couple is understandably confused but like all good fairy tales, accepts that their prayers have been answered. There is just one thing…Timothy has leaves growing on his legs.

Cindy Green (Jennifer Garner) introduces
Timothy (C.J. Adams) to Uncle Bub.
Incredibly, the next day, the new family is faced with telling others about who Timothy is and where he came from. With no children’s clothes on hand, Cindy and Jim dress him up in their’s and cover his legs with Jim’s socks telling Timothy to not say anything about his leaves because others will not understand. He agrees, but as it turns out, others don’t understand Timothy for other reasons. For no reason at all he will stop what he is doing, close his eyes and reach out his arms to the sun. The kids at school make fun of him, but he doesn’t mind. He goes swimming with his socks on. Cindy sister, Brenda (Rosemarie DeWitt) is judgmental and Jim’s father, James Sr. (David Morse) is unimpressed with his grandson just as he is unimpressed with Jim. Cindy describes Timothy as “our little something unexpected. Our little miracle.”

Timothy (C. J. Adams) and Joni
(Odeya Rush) enjoys some leaves.
For the rest of the movie, Cindy and Jim act as over-protective parents of their new son. They constantly worry if they are doing a good job or not – just like every other good parent on earth. Cindy is determined to highlight Timothy’s talents to her sister who is too busy bragging about her own children to care and Jim is determined to stand up for his boy where his own father did not when he was a boy. The two try to keep Timothy away from a neighborhood girl, Joni (Odeya Rush) who is artistic and has a secret of her own. To their dismay, Timothy falls for the girl.

Coach Cal (Common) tells Timothy
(C .J. Adams) some last minute tips
for the big soccer game.
Not unlike Pollyanna, Timothy touches others in special ways throughout the film. However, Timothy isn’t sickening sweet. He is honest to a fault though which tends to get his people-pleasing parents in trouble at times. By the end of the movie, everyone who knows Timothy, and appreciates him, is better for it.

Garner is incredibly cute in this movie and it perhaps that she is still a fairly new mom in real life that she is so excellent in the role. She and Edgerton have great repo ire together and actually represent a realistic view of an imperfect couple. Dianne Wiest plays the perfect sourpuss and foil for Timothy and Cindy.

Timothy (C. J. Adams) and Joni
(Odeya Rush).
Timothy is a very comfortable movie to watch with incredible photography, colorful scenery, beautiful music by Geoff Zanelli and only tasteful humor.

Finally, it would be easy to dismiss Timothy as just a simple story, but there are deeper, and spiritual meanings buried inside. For instance, Timothy’s leaves are strong and cannot be removed by anyone wanting to do so. However, when Timothy gives something of himself, he loses a leaf painlessly. The story doesn’t end like you’d expect it to, and many parents will shed a few happy tears along the way.


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