The Odd Life of Timothy Green — Prepare to Cry
An infertile couple is told by their RE that there is nothing more they can do medically to have a child. They go home and spend the evening on the sofa talking through that dream child they need to let go of — the one they will never create together — writing down all the moments they’ll never get to have with him or her. (I told you in the title that you were going to cry.) They put these scraps of paper in a box and bury it in the backyard, and in the middle of the night, out of the ground comes a fully grown, 10 year old boy.
Who immediately calls them mum and dad.
Forgive me, io9, if I take pause with the language you’ve used to describe the film:
The creeptastic Disney movie about a childless couple (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton) who write down their wish for a child and bury it in the yard… and then their dream child shows up, already aged 10. From an idea by Frank Zappa’s son Ahmet Zappa. It honestly looks kind of disturbing, but it’s clearly trying to be heartwarming — and maybe it’ll be cooler than the trailers look.
Creeptastic? Disturbing? Do you know what is disturbing? Being told that you can’t have a child. Or losing a child.
Disney keeps circling back to using infertility or loss as a plot device in many of their movies, most recently Up (unless there was one more recent than that — I can’t really keep up with Disney’s numerous releases). I wrote about it on BlogHer and quoted a post from Punch Drunk where she looked at numerous offensive thoughts around the Internet about the inclusion of infertility in the film. Such as Momicillin whose review of the film contains:
UP includes the longest flashback montage everrrrrrrr of the entire life of a sweet married couple, which culminates in the funeral of the wife. It includes what I believe to be (I am not kidding here) the first ever miscarriage portrayed in a children’s film. We see the young couple dreaming of babies. Then decorating a nursery. Then in an exam room—wife in chair, face buried in hands— while the doctor speaks to them, shaking his head. Sweet fancy bananas, I thought, please oh please don’t let my kid ask what is going on right now. (He didn’t.)
It would be crantastic to live a life where I never had to explain infertility, pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or neonatal death to my child, but I don’t live in that world. I don’t get to go through my day not thinking about infertility, and I haven’t had that luxury for about 10 years. 10 years confronting infertility and pregnancy loss. Am I little jealous that Momcillin seems to live in a world where she never needs to explain these sorts of things to her child; of course. I am 100% jealous. I would love to be in a position where miscarriage is something that happens to other people; not in our house.
But I don’t live in that world, so perhaps I see the plot devices in Up and The Odd Life of Timothy Green in a completely different way. They’re an organic way to bring up the topic and discuss infertility and loss with my twins while keeping it somewhat at a distance. Though I’ll be honest; I won’t be bringing the twins to see it in the movie theater. I may go, but I want to see it first, think through how I’ll explain things, what questions I’ll ask the twins after the movie, or perhaps decide that it doesn’t work as a conversation starter for us.
Will you go see the film? Are you grateful, cranky, or indifferent that Disney is frankly and without apology touching on infertility and loss in their films?
P.S. Lest you think Disney is unique in bringing infertility into their storylines, they are also unique in removing it from original fairy tales that contain infertility as a plot device. Fairy tales such as Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Gingerbread Man, Tom Thumb, Thumbilina, Snow White… should I go on… are all stories that contained infertility originally but have been stripped as they’ve been retold in modern versions.
As I asked in that post: 12% of the human world is affected by infertility and pregnancy loss. Did you really think a comparable amount of the fairy tale world would go unscathed? How do you feel about infertility being removed from fairy tales as they are reworked?