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Simon Birch (1998)

Joseph Mazzello , Oliver Platt , Mark Steven Johnson  |  PG |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (449 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Joseph Mazzello, Oliver Platt, David Strathairn, Dana Ivey, Ian Michael Smith
  • Directors: Mark Steven Johnson
  • Writers: Suggested By The Novel "A Prayer For Owen Meany" B, Written For The Screen By Mark Steven Johnson
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Letterboxed, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Hollywood Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 18, 1999
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (449 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0788815466
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,059 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Simon Birch" on IMDb

Special Features

Theatrical Trailer

Editorial Reviews

This screen adaptation of John Irving's novel A Prayer for Owen Meany was appreciated much more by audiences than by the majority of disapproving critics. Irving's books have fared only moderately well on film, and while The World According to Garp garnered critical praise, The Hotel New Hampshire was waiting in the wings to counteract the fanfare. Simon Birch is one of those nostalgic movies--determined to view the past in rose-colored hues--despite the fact that its protagonist, a dwarf named Simon Birch, is wholeheartedly unsympathetic. The film opens weepily, with Jim Carrey as the adult version of the film's main character and narrator, Joe Wenteworth (played as a youth by the serious young actor Joseph Mazzello). He's mourning at the grave of his best childhood friend, Simon Birch, with whom he had bonded instantly because both were misfits--one a dwarf, the other illegitimate. The deck is stacked from the beginning, especially when the camera dwells on Joe's luscious mom, Rebecca (Ashley Judd), who refuses to reveal the identity of Joe's father, which in turn urges Simon and Joe to embark on a quest to discover Joe's paternity. In a plot point that resembles The Scarlet Letter, the tide of fate turns on the "immoral" mom just as she's on the verge of finding true love with a decent fellow (played by Oliver Platt). Simon Birch ultimately descends into crudeness, though it asks the audience to continue to engage with its crass lead character. By the end, the film is reduced to drivel, cliché, and melodrama to tug our heartstrings into submission. All the things that should have been the film's focus--guilt, self-loathing, and redemption--remain elusive. --Paula Nechak

Product Description

A heartwarming and funny hit that's earned overwhelming critical acclaim, SIMON BIRCH features great performances from stars Ashley Judd (DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD, HIGH CRIMES, KISS THE GIRLS) and Oliver Platt (BICENTENNIAL MAN, DON'T SAY A WORD) in an outstanding cast! Even though Simon Birch is the smallest kid in town, deep down he knows that he was born to do something big! He's on a constant search to discover his destiny, but somehow manages to find nothing but trouble! Meanwhile, Simon's loyal best friend, Joe (Joseph Mazzello -- JURASSIC PARK, RADIO FLYER), is searching for the identity of his father, a secret his beautiful mother (Judd) has guarded Joe's entire life. Discover for yourself the undeniable charms of this uplifting and inspirational motion picture as these two share the hilarious, and sometimes tragic, ups and downs that will forever bind them together!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch the film. Read the book! January 23, 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I had to see Simon Birch from the moment I realized it was based on my favorite novel of all time: A Prayer For Owen Meany. I had an almost private screening - since I was only one of four to buy a ticket for the afternoon's matinee. I can't tell you in this small space how the story of Simon moved me. Simon's faith is pure and beautiful. It is encouraging, honest and inspiring. See the movie. Show it to the kids in your life. Help them (and yourself) to see the promise and purpose in their lives. If you are at all moved, and haven't already done so, read John Irving's A Prayer For Owen Meany. Of Course the novel couldn't be accurately portrayed on the screen, that's okay. I'm glad that no one attempted to put Owen on the screen. He's alive in the hearts and minds of those touched by the novel. Simon is now alive in my heart, too.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching and heartwarming! September 9, 2001
By Rebecca
I loved SIMON BIRCH. So far, I've seen it twice: once in the theaters, and once on video. Both times it gave me watery eyes at the end! I usually don't cry when watching movies. If the film is really sad, then I might just get watery eyes. That's the closet to crying that I get when watching movies.
SIMON BIRCH is about two very different best friends growing up in the '60s. Joe Wenteworth (Joseph Mazzello) is your typical twelve-year-old boy in search for the identity of his father, a secret his young, beautiful mother, Rebecca Wenteworth (Ashley Judd) has been keeping from him ever since he was born. Simon Birch (Ian Michael Smith) is also twelve years old, but he's much shorter than most twelve-year-olds. In fact, he is a dwarf (or midgit) who had a heart defect when he was born. Simon's parents don't care about him at all, and so he usually spends most of his time with Joe's family. Everyone in town makes fun of Simon because of his short size and unique personality, always insisting that God has a plan for everyone and that he will one day become a hero, as God planned for him. Jim Carrey narrates the story as the adult Joe. His role surprised me a lot because Jim Carrey usually plays wacky, hilarious roles instead of serious ones. Rebecca also ends up bringing home a boyfriend, Ben (Oliver Pratt), who the young Joe dislikes but learns to like him in the end.
SIMON BIRCH is just a really amazing, inspiring film. All the actors are at their best - each one deserves Oscars! The real star of the film is Joseph Mazzello, who has always been a favorite actor of mine. I'm waiting for him to make another movie. Hopefully he will, soon! Ian Michael Smith is perfect in his debut film role. Ashley Judd has never played her part so well, and Oliver Pratt is also amazing.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars inspiring movie January 16, 2007
My 11 year old saw this movie at school and wouldn't stop talking about it or asking for it. Since we couldn't find it at any store we amazoned it and there it was!!. Part of his Christmas present, he loves it. This movie is very inspiring and from what he says it makes him have hope in other people and what we can do to help others.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Heartfelt, Funny & Deep as the Ocean' November 20, 2006
I love this film for many reasons. To me, it has all the elements of a great story: comedy, tragedy, a good dose of authentic 'americana' (set in coastal Maine), interesting and 'real' characters, a timeless message, powerful archetypes, 'real' emotion and a great soundtrack. What more can you ask for?

The film centers around an endearing friendship between two young boys. One, without a father, and the other deformed and virtually disowned by his family, yet born with an uncanny awareness of his destiny and life purpose, which the film eventually plays out. The bond that is developed in this story between the two boys is very affecting. Realistic, without getting at all 'sappy'. All the characters in the film are excellent and fit exceedingly well. The Rev. Russell, Simon, Joe Wentworth, Ben Goodrich and the lovely Ashley Judd as Joe's mother are all superbly portrayed, and each are characters one develops a good deal of empahy for during the course of the film. Even the reverend, a shadow of a man, tormented by the spineless choices of his past is portrayed in his humanity as one deserving of mercy and understanding.

The movie is at times hysterically funny too. I mean, really very, very funny! The Christmas Pagaent scene is one of the funniest things I"ve ever seen... maybe because I grew up in that traditional New England atmosphere and have lived through my own version of it!

Jim Carey, playing a serious role, makes two brief appearances in the film (at the beginning and the end) as the adult Joe Wentworth, and he fits great in that role. The acting of Joseph Mazzello as the young Joe is among the best acting jobs I've seen by a young person. He steps into the character perfectly.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SIMON BIRCH: Just what I needed to cry December 26, 2007
It is amazing to remember how critics at the time hammered SIMON BIRCH for it's sentimentality and cliche, as they saw it.Well,Siskel and Ebert loved it,and you know what,so did I.

I lost a precious friend to a car accident before Xmas, and I haven't been able to grieve.SIMON BIRCH touched the right chord and tears flowed this morning.Now granted,another film or something else might have worked, but frankly the role of Simon Birch played by Ian Michael Smith is simply one of those roles made for a certain person at 3'1" to play.(Smith is still that height and attends M.I.T!).The story is one of those "underdog person will overcome the odds no matter what the cost".We've seen it done before,with even flimsier scripts,but there is a certain tenderness and warm fuzziness about SIMON BIRCH that has an appropriately whimsical soundtrack by the composer of HAIRSPRAY, Marc Shaiman, that just works and melts the cynical and rational parts of us and reduces us to drivel.SIMON BIRCH melts me like MY DOG SKIP and TUCK EVERLASTING.These films bring out both the child and the adult needing to be a child in me.SIMON BIRCH is all good for what ails me!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars SIMON BIRCH
Great moving story. Can't keep it in my DVD library. My kids claim they're borrowing my copy but somehow it is never returned.
Published 11 days ago by G Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars Simons effect on me!
This was a very good movie. I enjoyed it. Simon helped strengthen my faith. I wish more people were like Simon!
Published 22 days ago by Tommie Berry
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
I purchased this to replace my old video of this movie. Such a great story for kids and adults alike.
Published 29 days ago by Biblio Phil
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic movie you will never forget
It is an emotional roller coaster as so many unexpected events take place. Simon seems to be getting in trouble without trying to in spite of being small. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sandra L. Thornton
5.0 out of 5 stars A CLEAN FILM!
The first thing that caught my attention about this movie was when I saw Ashley Judd wearing a white (conservative) feminine dress without showing any cleavage; she was simply a... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Gloria
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Family Movie
I love this movie, what a great family movie, it has humor and compassion. Life lessons, extremely heart warming.
You will want to watch more than once.
Published 1 month ago by Donna M. Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie for all ages.
Best movie. Has it is funny, sad, heartwarming and has a beautiful message about faith, courage and believing in self in spite of what others believe about you.
Published 1 month ago by Kenneth J. Newton
5.0 out of 5 stars Family classic
It's a classic!!! Despite a few minor swear words and reference to boobs/breasts it's a great movie, my 8 yr old son loved it as I did when I was young!! 😊
Published 1 month ago by K. Simmons
4.0 out of 5 stars Good movie, very moving
Have watched this twice. Very inspirational and well acted movie. Would recommend
for anyone to watch especially youth and young adults.
Published 1 month ago by Foxy's Mom
5.0 out of 5 stars Cute movie but very sad
Very touching sweet and sad movie - love all these actors! It's an older movie but much better message and not as violent for teens as Pay it Forward.
Published 1 month ago by CrflConsmr
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