on January 23, 2000
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.
on September 9, 2001
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. Even Jim Carrey is really good! The storyline and script are solid and deliver a very powerful message. I just cannot describe how much I love this film. The scenery is breath-taking, too! I strongly recommend that you go and rent this film. Better yet, buy it! You will not be disappointed.
on 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.
Simon Birch is a wonderful film that acknowledges the spiritual essence of people, divine providence, life purpose, consequence of choices, the connections between souls, the sometimes absurdity of life and the mystery of why life unfolds as it does. Be warned: It easily elicits tears. It is both very heavy and light as a feather. Deep as the ocean and yet it doesn't take itself too seriously. Very well done. If I was forced to choose one movie I would not want to live without, it would be this one. Highly recommended.
on 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.
on October 6, 2000
Simon Birch is one of those movies that yes, it does have a couple things out of place like a little launguage and sexual innuendos, but at the end of the movie you aren't thinking about any of that stuff unless you are reminded. Simply put- the movie is brilliant.
Ian Michael Smith plays Simon Birch very well- although I think his part was so well written that it would have been hard not to play in well. But the real star of this movie, in my opinion, is Joseph Mazzello. Joe can take any part that is written and make it his own and in many cases make the movie- it's no wonder Speilberg changed the kids in Jurassic Park so that Joe could play in it. However, this movie out of all of his (yes, even including The Cure) is probably his most well-acted. His maturity shows in this movie compared to say, The River Wild. It is really a shame that we haven't seen anything from Joe since this.
For Joe Mazzello fans, this and the Cure are must owns. However, this movie appeals to a wide audience (someone has made the comment they couldn't figure out whether this was meant to appeal to adults or kids- I say both) and would be a good family film if you are willing to look past a small amount of launguage and a couple sexual comments/situations that are mainly just to show what kids are like for those that have forgot (I'd say most kids above 11 or so could easily handle this).
on 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!
on June 29, 2001
Its rare for me to find a film in the video store which is a real discovery. I catch a lot of films in first run but this one went under my radar. I had scarcely heard of it but picked it up on a lark, perhaps because it had a Siskel/ Ebert 2 thumbs up recommend on the cover. Having watched it I came in to read how others reacted to it and I am happy to see so many people have also fallen in love with the film. Perhaps understandably, though I can't relate, the few people that seem to dislike the film are people who have read the book and some professional critics. I can't add much that hasn't already been said but I found the film totally charming. The music score is lush and perfectly enhances the mood and tone of the film. Ashley Judd is at her very best looking gorgeous and so sweet and kind you can completely understand how Simon could have a crush on her. Oliver Platt turns in a winning performance as the kid-smart boyfriend. While Simon is given title billing the film is really about two friends whose stories are given equal weight. Simon Birches death is an important part of the film but isn't the core. There are emotional moments of all sorts throughout the film. So while the ending was emotional, it wasn't an unnecessary tag on death like the one in Pay if Forward. We know Simon is going to die as the story starts out in a cemetary. How that comes about kept me curious. Anyway it was a great experience to pick up a film you don't expect to be so good. I am glad I caught it. I thought it was kind of neat to discover Jim Carrey requested that his name be removed from the film because he was concerned people would get the wrong idea about the kind of film it was if his name was associated with it. He plays an characteristically tender small role as the "Wonder Years" style narrator who bookends opening and closing of the film and does such a nice job it is almost impossible to imagine him as the same guy who played Ace Ventura.
on April 2, 1999
Ian Michael Smith and Joseph Mazzello, the memorable starts of Simon Birch, create an amazingly effective on-screen portrayal of lasting friendship in this underappreciated movie--a gem worth watching and re-watching with the people you love. Though the movie is so unlike the novel it was based on (*A Prayer for Owen Meany* by John Irving) that the characters' names were changed, the video capably stands on its own: Simon Birch, like Owen Meany, is a gritty hero with a heart full of faith, a puzzling boy with a destiny--and no one can dissuade him from following his life purpose. Simon's outsized wit is larger than life, housed in a miniature body that his Sunday School buddies lift high above their heads with surprisingly little effort. His odd-sounding voice irritates even as it informs people that Simon can be very SERIOUS. I thank God--and John Irving--for this classic story. Both the video and the book are among my favorites: I highly recommend both. If you're willing to temporarily abandon your cynical side, you may find yourself cheering for Simon (and Owen) in spite of the wild absurdities contained in this remarkable, mystical tale.
on September 28, 2003
I went to see Simon Birch with my best girlfriend
I have a disability in which I am only 3 ft tall
I could totally relate to Simon Birch and everything he felt
It was a life changing movie for me and touched my very soul
The only thing with my life is that I came from a loving family and Simon did not but the relationship that I had with his best friend was similar to the one simon had with his best friend.
Please do yourself a favour and see this movie
Simon Birch lives on in my heart forever
on November 22, 2004
I loved this movie! By now I'm sure you've read enough reviews to know what the story is about, so I'm not going to go there. I just want to say that Ian Michael Smith is incredible! He plays the role with such vitality that you wonder if he's acting at all. What I loved most about the character of Simon Birch is that he wasn't a victim. Sure, he was made fun of, but for the most part, he was a "normal" boy, with many of the same thoughts as other boys his age. Joseph Mazzello, whom you might recognize from "Jurassic Park," delivers a heart-wrenching performance at the end. Ashley Judd illuminates the screen in an all too-short role, and Oliver Platt is as likable as ever. This is a wonderful movie, and sure to touch the heart of even the most stony creature.