Movie Review: Simon Birch

This content of this post originally appeared in the “JNL” section of the Janesville Gazette.

Ian Michael Smith has his debut in this wonderful film about life, friends and God. Acting in correlation with Joseph Mazzello and Jim Carrey, he does a great job.

The movie is about a 12-year-old dwarf named Simon Birch (Smith). He was recorded as the smallest baby delivered ever in the small town of Gravestown, Maine, but probably with the biggest mouth and sense of humor. He says exactly what is on his mind, along with some other comments that make you think a little, and makes sure everybody knows it.

At 12, he believes God has a plan laid out for him to be a hero. At first, his friend, Joe (Mazzello) thinks there is no God and there is no plan; however, Simon proves him wrong.

Everything Simon does, he does to the fullest. He never gives up and always keeps trying. He plays on the town baseball team with all the other children, and goes to the same school.

Much of the plot is dedicated to the two boys trying to find out who Joe’s real father is. Joe was conceived out of wedlock, and his mother (Ashley Judd) kept the secret of the fathers identity to her death. Parents may be alarmed at the use of a certain word for this situation because it is so often used for cursing, but in this case it is used correctly. The plot keeps you guessing at who the father is throughout the whole movie.

One surprise for most people is that Jim Carrey is in a movie that wasn’t written around his slapstick comedy skills. He plays the adult Joe, and is narrator for the movie, which he did an admirable job at.

Something I must commend the writers for is the way they continued elements of the plot throughout the whole movie. Two such examples of this are Simon’s attempts at holding his breath under water and a solitary deer, both of which are important in the end.

There is some rough language in the movie, about half of it cursing and half of it remarks toward human anatomy. Most of the latter comes from Simon and Joe, two adolescent boys.

When Simon dies, some of the sting is taken off, because you already know he was going to die when at the beginning of the movie they show his grave.

The movie finishes up with some sentimental scenes: Joe finally coming to friendship with Ben (Oliver Platt), who had been his mother’s boyfriend, and also coming to grips with who his father is. The movie gets sorrowful toward the end, but everybody came out of the theater smiling.


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