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Simon Birch

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Simon Birch

Starring: Ian Michael Smith, Joseph Mazzello
Director: Johnson 43338
Rated: PG
RunTime: 120 Minutes
Release Date: September 1998
Genre: Drama

Review by MrBrown
2½ stars out of 4

Aside from the fleeting presences of big screen talent such as Ashley Judd and Jim Carrey, there's little in this modest, engaging, yet cloying drama to distinguish it from, as my guest at the screening said, "a _Hallmark_Hall_of_Fame_ movie." "Suggested by" John Irving's novel _A_Prayer_for_Owen_Meany_ (joining the ranks of Disney's other loose adaptations of books: _Up_Close_&_Personal, "suggested by" a biography on late newswoman Jessica Savitch; and, most notoriously, _The_Scarlet_Letter_, "freely adapted" from the Nathaniel Hawthorne classic), _Simon_Birch_ tells of the friendship between two very different 12-year-old boys in the 1960s: the tiny title character (Ian Michael Smith), the smallest delivery ever recorded in his town; and Joe (Joseph Mazzello). The two stick together through laughs and tears while at the same time searching for elusive answers: the identity of Joe's father and Simon's true purpose as, according to him, "God's instrument."

_Simon_Birch_ features from impressive performances by a glowing Ashley Judd (as Joe's foxy mother), Oliver Platt (as Judd's boyfriend), and especially Mazzello and newcomer Smith. The pair's emotionally charged scenes are affecting because of their unforced, heartbreaking performances, and not the often treacly, TV-movie-level writing and direction of first-timer Mark Steven Johnson, who also overdoes the slapsticky comedy scenes. _Simon_Birch_ is a sweet little film, but it may be a bit too sweet for its own good.

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