Simon Birch

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: -1 1/2

In a small town in Maine in the 1950's, an extremely small son is born to the Birch family and he is not expected to live. But he does, and when he reaches the age of 12 he is healthy, but only about 3 feet tall. Named Simon (Ian Michael Smith), he's a very likable kid and somehow has acquired a strong faith in God. He believes that God has a specific plan for him to be a hero in life, and that God has a reason for everything in life. He has a special friend, Joe (Joseph Mazzello), and they have lots of fun times together. But, in a bizarre accident, Simon is responsible for the death of Joe's attractive mother (Ashley Judd). Though remorseful, Simon believes that God had a reason for the accident. All the while, Joe is trying to identify his real father, and Simon helps him in his quest. Eventually, Simon's purpose in life comes to fruition on a snowy weekend retreat with a group of children from his church. SIMON BIRCH probably won't find a large mass audience, but it will have a very special appeal to those who enjoy this type of unique story.

Simon's faith in God is so strong that he talks about it frequently and even discusses it with his minister. Unfortunately, his minister (David Strathairn) is very vague and even suggests that Simon is carrying his faith too far. And the minister is later shown to be morally weak, though repentant. Also, Simon's Sunday School teacher is portrayed as harsh and critical. When Joe's mother is killed in a bizarre accident, this poses a difficult theological question, but both Simon and his minister maintain their belief in God's goodness and mercy. The ultimate message of the film is that God did have a special purpose for Simon and, by implication, for others as well. It is very disappointing that this meaningful story is marred by a number of obscenities, some spoken by a young boy, and a few regular profanities. And a children's Christmas pageant contains a sexually suggestive, comical incident. If only the obscenities and profanities had not been included, we could recommend this uplifting film.

Preview Reviewer: John Evans
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution (Hollywood Pictures), 3900 W. Alameda Ave, Burbank, CA,91521

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several (5) times - Mild 1, Moderate 4

Obscene Language: Many (13) times - S-word 6, Other 7)

Profanity: Few (3) times - All regular (GD 2, Good Lord)

Violence: Several times - Moderate(Woman killed near baseball field, boy kicked in genitals accidentally, boy hits another in stomach, bus crashes into icy lake, boy almost drowns)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times - Moderate (Boy talks about girl's and woman's breasts, boy says sex makes people crazy, boy reaches out to grab girl's breast.

Drugs: Few times - Woman smokes cigarettes

Other: Boy has strong faith in God and believes God wants him to be a hero, Sunday School teacher portrayed as mean and minister as weak and uncertain, boy sincerely talks to God and quotes Bible, boy's faith vindicated

Running Time: 110 minutes
Intended Audience: Teenagers and Adults

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