‘Suggested’ by John Irving’s novel A Prayer for Owen Meany (he asked for it to have a different title as he wasn’t happy with the script for the film), this drama should come with its own box of tissues as it’s definitely a weepie. Young Simon (Smith) believes God has a special plan for him. When he was born, he wasn’t expected to live because of his small size, but he has, even though his dwarfism means he is treated as something of a misfit. His best friend is Joe, who doesn’t fit in either. Joe’s illegitimate, and wants to know the identity of his father, though his mother Rebecca (Judd) refuses to tell him.
There’s tragedy aplenty here (although the opening present-day scenes, with Jim Carrey playing a grown-up Joe, do reveal that two characters are now dead, softening the blow when it comes) and the film itself is unashamedly sentimental. Smith is superb (although his sparky character may annoy some viewers) and there’s nice support from Oliver Platt as Rebecca’s suitor. If you’ve read the book, this will be a disappointment, as it only touches on parts of the story, but if you’re in the mood for a slushy film, this could fit the bill. Because of the two deaths and some upsetting moments, this isn’t suitable for very young viewers.
Is Simon Birch suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...