This may seem rude, given the huge economic impact of Georgia’s burgeoning film industry, but so many of the projects shot here are just sort of … eh. “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” which hits theaters Wednesday, is more like, ah!
Unlike so much of Hollywood’s locally produced fare since the 2008 tax incentives that began luring productions, it is not a sequel, like “Fast Five,” the fifth in the “Fast and Furious” series; or a remake, like “Footloose” and “The Three Stooges.” It doesn’t lean hard on bathroom humor, like “The Change Up” or “Hall Pass” and unlike “The Watch,” it does not pair a talented cast with scene after ridiculous scene involving various bodily fluids.
This Disney movie, filmed largely in the Decatur and Newnan areas, is refreshingly charming, and its appeal happily owes nothing to explosions, raunchy sex scenes, dance numbers, pratfalls or aliens. It stars Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton as Cindy and Jim Green, a couple longing to become parents, and CJ Adams as Timothy, the child who arrives amid hope and mystery.
It almost wasn’t made here.
“My hope had always been to shoot the film in New York,” director Peter Hedges told us the other day, when he and Edgerton were in town for a number of interviews promoting the movie. The film’s small budget and our state’s tax incentives for filmmakers steered things south, a happy coincidence.
“The topography lent itself to the world I imagined,” Hedges said. “We all wanted the film to have a timeless quality.”
“Odd Life” is set in a fictitious small town down on its luck, with Dianne Wiest and Ron Livingston portraying the Greens’ impossible bosses, Rosemarie DeWitt as a prickly, overachieving supermom and the rapper-actor Common as a caring soccer coach.
“Good movies usually start with a really good script,” Edgerton said. “The luxury of being an actor given good material is it takes a lot of the pressure off of you.”
Hedges, a novelist and playwright as well as a filmmaker, penned the book “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and the screenplay for the movie it inspired. He wrote and directed “Pieces of April,” a 2003 project that starred Katie Holmes, and the Steve Carell film “Dan in Real Life” (with Pierce Gardner). He also earned an Oscar nomination for the screenplay for the Hugh Grant movie “About a Boy,” which he co-wrote.
Edgerton, who will portray Tom Buchanan in the upcoming (ahem) remake of “The Great Gatsby” and played roles in a number of the (ahem) “Star Wars” sequels (oh, sorry, prequels), was thrilled to sign on to something so different.
“You read about the lack of original material,” said Edgerton, who shucked his Aussie accent for the role of Jim Green. “Movies are chosen to be made based on their marketability.”
This one clearly wasn’t, Hedges noted.
“I knew the more special we made this film, the harder it was going to be to market,” he said. “It’s not based on a comic book. There’s no 3-D element. There are so many sequels being made. There aren’t enough of these movies being made.”