"Lots of people hate anything that's different," says Cindy Green (Jennifer Garner) to her Pinterest/vision-board child Timothy (CJ Adams) while trying to explain why he must cover up the leaves that sprout on his legs. That hammer-to-nail, nutshelled life lesson is one of the pegs upon which this live-action fertility fairy tale hangs. It's also one of the few of its kitchen-sink issues and themes around family (infertility, sibling rivalry, emotionally distant fathers/grandfathers, the impact of death on families, transnational adoption) that is actually developed or given space for contemplation. After Cindy (Jennifer Garner) and her husband, Jim (Joel Edgerton), learn that they cannot have a baby of their own, an artfully mud-speckled magic boy Timothy crawls from their garden and—yep—into their hearts. A host of plot points follows: a financial crisis; Timothy's athletic ineptitude and his crush on a moody, artsy girl; plus assorted fallout from the boy's honest-to-a-fault blurting of truths. Garner applies her workmanlike charm to Cindy (her dimples should have their own agent) and has good chemistry with Edgerton, who is scruffily appealing. The supporting cast, meanwhile, is better than the material demands, but there's something cynically smart in the way the movie peddles catharsis without ever facing trauma.
Garner and Adams as mother and son.
Opens Weds., Aug. 15 at Lincoln Square and other theaters. Rated PG. 125 Minutes.