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 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

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.


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.


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.


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
Adult Written byFriday night mo... January 4, 2019

Good message but best for older kids

This movie has a good message but definitely best for teens and up. There is a lot of bad language (s--t, bastard, a--hole, god damn), several references to te... Continue reading
Adult Written bySetheroni July 8, 2019

Great Heartwarming Teen Movie. Maybe Too Intense For Younger Viewers

The movie has language including: “a--holes” “s--t” “bulls--t” “bastard” and use of middle finger. The main character is small, and is often bullied and treated... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byem123 June 6, 2018

Not ok

I did not think this film was appropriate for younger vewiers. It was a good movie but the parts with them mentiong the girls breasts wasn't ok. I almost c... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byTurtleKid2001 March 14, 2018

Very good story

This might have some cursing, but the story is really good, and you guys should watch it.

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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love friendship tales

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate