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Movies for the Season: Simon Birch

Why Simon Birch is a great film for the season

By Joe PattersonPublished 5 months ago 3 min read

What are we without our friends? Alone. If you want to watch a great film for the holiday season that emphasizes the importance of friendship and why we should be thankful for it, then you want to watch Simon Birch.

Written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson and loosely inspired by the novel A Prayer for Owen Meany, the 1998 film Simon Birch tells the story of a special friendship between 12 year old Simon Birch portrayed by Ian Michael Smith and his best friend Joseph Wentworth portrayed by Joseph Mazello. The story is narrated by an adult Joseph Wentworth portrayed by comedy legend Jim Carrey in a more serious setting which is a far cry from the atmosphere of comedy in which we are used to seeing him.

Born in 1952, Simon Birch is a 12 year old boy who suffers from dwarfism. While the rest of the town views Simon as a freak of nature, his best friend Joseph loves him like a brother and Joseph’s mother Rebecca portrayed by Ashley Judd absolutely loves and adores him like a son, as Simon’s own parent truly care nothing for him. Faith and church life play a big role in Simon’s journey. Simon believes himself to be an instrument of God, a notion at which the leadership of the church scoffs. Tragedy and heartache eventually strike the duo and as Simon’s life nears its end due to the poor health of his birth defect, the pair struggle to help Joseph begin his life and find his way in the world.

I actually remember when Simon Birch first came out. It was one of our favorite movies in our household to watch as a family. This film is definitely a great film to watch for the holidays as most of it takes place during the holiday season. Every performance in this film is heartfelt. From Joseph Mazello’s misguided emotions, to Ashley Judd’s maternal warmth, and Jim Carrey’s sophistication, Simon Birch succeeds at selling every feeling. Without a doubt it was Ian Michael Smith’s performance as Simon Birch that stole the show the most.

Ian Michael Smith did a great job at sending us on a rollercoaster of emotions with Simon’s open minded sense of humor, smart mouthed wisecracking and having a serious sense of faith an perception about the world around him. It would be a lie to say Michael’s real life conditioning doesn’t add to the film’s appealing authenticity. Actors with dwarfism is of course nothing new, even nearly 30 years ago it was a common occurrence, but to see a child actor with dwarfism like Ian Michael Smith is uncommon even by today standards, so it was definitely a super rarity back in the day.

Simon Birch is a great film for all the reasons that craft a great film into what it is, but on a more personal level, I find this movie’s message about the importance of friendship to be most striking. With our main characters, Simon and Joe, we see that a best friend can mean everything if you have no one else. Simon and Joseph lift each other’s spirits, defend each other against all opposition and bring out the best in one another in even the smallest ways. The relationship between the two also shows how our friends can inspire us to be better by opening up our minds and helping us discover faith we didn’t know we had. During adult Joseph’s narration he speaks frequently about how Simon has inspired him to be better in all of these ways.

Overall Simon Bitch is a great film for holidays such as Thanksgiving because it teaches us that true friendship is a gift for which We should certainly be thankful.

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About the Creator

Joe Patterson

Hi I'm Joe Patterson. I am a writer at heart who is a big geek for film, music, and literature, which have all inspired me to be a writer. I rap, write stories both short and long, and I'm also aspiring to be an author and a filmmaker.

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  • Tiffany Gordon 5 months ago

    Beautiful work Joe!

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