Simon Birch

Movie review by
Susan Avery, Common Sense Media
Simon Birch Movie Poster Image
Tearjerker is touching but too intense for younger kids.
  • PG
  • 1998
  • 114 minutes

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Kids and adults belittle the lead character’s dwarfism. The town pastor even says “Simon Birch is not a normal person.” However, Simon sacrifices himself and ends up becoming a hero and saving the lives of many, showing that character matters more than size. Good messages about forgiveness, too.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The clear role models are Rebecca and Ben, who demonstrate acceptance of differences and embracing of diversity. Also, Simon Birch, the lead character, is himself a positive role model as he is strong in his beliefs, loyal to his friend, courageous, and smart and funny, as well.

Violence

Sad accidental death of one character from being hit by a baseball. A bus accident where children are in peril, and a main character dies saving everyone.

Sex

Repeated discussion of Simon’s best friend being born out of wedlock. Also, there are mentions of an adolescent girl’s breasts and a scene where Simon grabs them, although the audience doesn’t see the actual touch.

Language

Profanity including "s--t" and "bastard."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Simon’s father, the religion teacher, and the pastor all smoke.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the lead character, Simon Birch, is a dwarf who is the subject of continuous intolerance and ridicule by adults, children, and the local religious leader. The film depicts the 12-year-old boy as a child who is wise beyond his years and believes that God has made him small for a higher purpose. Simon’s best friend, Joe, was born out of wedlock and is also an outcast in the community. Language includes words like “s--t” and “bastard,” and there are references to an adolescent girl’s breasts. An accidental death at the hands of Simon leads Joe on a search of his biological father. There's a bus accident where children are in peril, and a main character dies saving everyone. The movie is based on John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, and fans of the book should know that the movie is very different.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 17 years old Written byZoocreature345 May 19, 2014

Terrible Movie

I thought this was horrendously awful. This is just a horrible, nasty, mean, hate-filled movie. I did not laugh once. I did not even crack a smile. I also hate... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old October 20, 2013

Spoilers!

My school had us all watch this movie- I cried at the end. It was wonderfully made and had some solid messages about forgiveness and loss. There's some que... Continue reading

What's the story?

Simon Birch (Ian Michael Smith) is a happy 12-year-old boy, despite the fact that his parents pay no attention to him because they’re disgusted by his dwarfism. His best friend, Joe Wenteworth (Joseph Mazzello), was born out of wedlock, and the boys bond over being outcasts in the community. Simon believes he’s an instrument of God and is awaiting his higher purpose, while Joe grapples with accepting his mother’s new boyfriend. The movie is based on John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, and fans of the book should know that the movie is very different.

Is it any good?

This is an excellent film that depicts the power of friendship and forgiveness, embracing diversity, and discovering true parental love. Simon and Joe are best friends who deal with and overcome life’s cruelest moments. Joe’s mother and her boyfriend are completely accepting of Simon’s dwarfism and, subsequently, Simon spends a lot of time at their home, especially since his own parents don’t care about him. When Simon accidentally kills Joe’s mother, Joe learns to forgive his friend. Joe goes on a quest to find his biological father and learns what it takes to earn the title of Dad. Adoptive families in particular will be heartened by his surprise conclusion. Simon also comes to the rescue when he discovers that his size has its benefits.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the movie portrays children with physical challenges and the reactions of the physically-abled community. What does your own religion and culture tell you about those with physical disabilities and those with higher callings?

  • Discuss child neglect, the death of a parent, and how guardianship works. What message does the movie send about the difference between a biological parent and an adoptive parent?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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