“Timothy Green” & “ParaNorman”

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(KTSF by Sean Au)

Family movie “The Odd Life of Timothy Green”

Jim and Cindy Green (played by Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner) who have exhausted all avenues to get pregnant, decide to write down the attributes they wish their child to have on slips of paper, which they then bury in the backyard, among rows of organic vegetables they planted. After a freak storm , a 10-year- old boy (newcomer CJ Adams in the title role) appears in their house.

It seems that he is all that Jim and Cindy have asked for. The couple names him Timothy. The catch is that Timothy has leaves that grow around his ankles. The unexpected parents raise the boy despite his oddities, yet become over-protective of the boy, making him wear knee length socks to hide the leaves, which could well be the first of many mistakes that the couple makes in parenting.

“The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” essentially a Disney movie, is accessible and heartwarming. At the same time, it is a bittersweet tale that advocates parenthood as a long learning process for adults who will continue to make bad decisions, but these are the mistakes that enable parents to become better at what they are doing.

“We all have parents. We all know what it is like to be in a family, love it or hate it, or crave or miss certain elements of family,” says Joel Edgerton who plays the learning father.

Director Peter Hedges adds, “When you have the kids that we have, I came to realize that I do not own them, they are not mine. Making the film reminded me, clarified for me that children do not belong to us but we belong to them.”

Although falling short in the study of parenthood, the movie entertains and dispenses superficial advice on what parents should or should not do.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Video courtesy of Disney Pictures.

Animation “ParaNorman”

In Oregon-based animation studio Laika’s second feature (after the acclaimed “Coraline”), Norman Babcock (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee of “Kick Ass” and “Let Me In”), is an 11 year old boy with who has the ability to see dead people. His oddity makes him a target of bullies in school and earns him a chubby sidekick, Neil (Tucker Albrizzi). Norman is contacted by his dead uncle that he has to help appease the spirit a girl who was executed a few centuries ago for being a witch. She seeks revenge by laying a curse on the town, this time to raise the undead from the graves and have the zombies take over the streets of the otherwise quiet town.

The 3D movie is shot using stop motion, a time-consuming and tedious process that took three years. For a horror-ish picture, this form of animation is exceptionally effective to convey a sense of playful doom. This also makes the film stand out from most other animated features that employ the ubiquitous computer-animation today.

What makes “ParaNorman” an excellent film goes beyond the technical, the story-telling ventures into a bold territory of the supernatural that echoes Japanese and Spanish horror pictures with children as main characters in touching moral tales, something rarely seen in Hollywood movies.

Behind “ParaNorman” are Sam Fell (“Flushed Away” and “The Tale of Despereaux”) and first time director Chris Butler, who also wrote the screenplay. “The best kind of stories are the ones that we remember,” says Butler. “The movies that I remember from my childhood always have something to say.”

Sam Fell adds, “If you come away with anything, then underneath it is how we judge a book by its cover, how we make assumptions about people just by the way they look, or situations about how they look.”

Despite its seemingly horror premise of a story, “ParaNorman” is more of a cautionary tale about why we should embrace those around us who may be different from us.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Video courtesy of Focus Features.

(Copyright 2012 KTSF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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