Simon  Birch


Siskel and Ebert gave this film “Two thumbs up, way up!”  I strongly agree with them.  This is a wonderful movie, the kind of movie that has a message worth remembering.  A movie that will last forever as you can watch it time and time again.  It is ageless and wise and warm.  The CBS Radio in Los Angeles referred to it as “Inspired and intensely moving!”


It stars Joseph Mazzello (as Judd’s son Joe), Oliver Platt (as Judd’s boyfriend), Ashley Judd, and Ian Michael Smith (as Simon Birch).  (Jim Carrey narrates the film as the grown up Joe.  Judd has one son and she refuses to let anyone know who the father is during a time in our country when this was unacceptable behavior.  Her son befriends Simon Birch, who is a wise little boy who has parents that reject him because he was born a dwarf.  Simon loves Ashley Judd who always reaches out to him with joyful tenderness.  Usually when Simon Birch is playing little league baseball the coach tells him to just stand there and do nothing.  He is so small that the strike zone for the pitcher is impossible to hit so that he gets walked every time. 


But one day, the coach wants the game over and tells Simon to hit away assuming he will simply strike out.  Instead Simon hits a line drive that goes foul and hits Ashley Judd in the head and kills her.  So Ashley’s son Joe and Simon try to figure out who Joe’s father is now that he is motherless.  (Eventually it turns out to be the up-tight minister, which explains why Judd would not tell anyone.  But by then Joe has learned to love Judd’s boyfriend so that the two of them are together at the end.)


All of this is interesting and well told.  But the heart of the story is Simon Birch and the relationship he has with Joe and how Simon is convinced that God has a plan for each of us and that Simon is going to be a hero.  Simon has far more faith than the minister or the Sunday school teacher.  He believes he’s destined to become a hero, and that his disability---dwarfism resulting from Morquio’s syndrome---is actually a gift from God to facilitate his destiny.


I’ve already told you too much.  Go watch the movie. 


As you watch it appreciate how much it tells you about acceptance of others, about faith, and about God’s plans for us.


You then might want to read the book that the movie is loosely based on: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.