Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
August 22, 2012
If you haven’t already seen it, watch the video of kids crying their eyes out after seeing the half-star atrocity “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” a movie Disney has promoted as “feel good” despite a sad ending—SPOILER ALERT: Timothy dies—that clearly has some young viewers debating (via tears) the studio’s claim.
I’m sure we can all think of movies that destroyed us as kids. Actually, one of my first movie memories is my mom and my friend’s mom taking us to see “All Dogs Go to Heaven,” only to take us out of the theater (we were in first grade) after recognizing that death would factor into the movie. Instead, we walked into “Prancer,” already in progress. I don’t remember much of that movie outside of Sam Elliott’s mustache, but I’m semi-sure that none of the reindeer died.
There’s a wide range of material that’s hard to process when we’re young. The end of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” really freaked me out. A book involving Grover, that blue supporting character in “Sesame Street,” really wrecked me, I think because he was being left out. My wife recalls needing to leave a screening of “Fievel Goes West” at the library because she was so upset that Fievel had to leave his family.
Perhaps these elements need to appear in so-called family films sometimes to help us recognize and deal with the realities of life. Otherwise we wind up with time-wasters like “Hop,” which provide no lessons or laughs and suggests the filmmakers only hope the kids walk out begging to buy the merchandise and candy. On the other hand, a movie like “Toy Story 3” can move kids of all ages to tears in the best way. It’s a spectacular movie about childhood but also about friendship. I’ll never forget the image of the toys holding hands, facing the end together as they move toward certain incineration. Not that all G- or PG-rated material should get that heavy, but when it's done right, it's a beautiful, important thing.
“The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” about a couple (Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton) who writes down attributes of their ideal, hypothetical son and then he literally emerges from the ground, only manipulates its way to sentimentality it hasn’t earned. However, when the kids in the aforementioned video calm down, perhaps they will have more of a conversation with their parents about why the film upset them so much. Even when packaged as badly as “Timothy Green,” that’s probably preferable in the long run to 90 excruciating minutes with a computer-generated bunny that inspires no reaction or conversation other than, “Why does the Easter Bunny have a British accent?”
What movies/shows/books wrecked you when you were younger? Comment below.
Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC