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Simon Birch Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 2.0

    out of 100

    Generally unfavorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 42

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    It allows for little of the dark and funny in Irving's picaresque morality fable. No room! Not with the buckets of bathos thrown our way, substituting for mass-market spiritual uplift!

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  • 50

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    It's an excursion into a melodramatic morass that occasionally becomes difficult to sit through because it's so cloying.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Either you stand back and resist it, or you plunge in. There was something about its innocence and spunk that got to me, and I caved in.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 10+

Tearjerker is touching but too intense for younger kids.

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.

  • 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?

The good stuff
  • message true4

    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.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: 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.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    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 false2

    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 false2

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

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Simon’s father, the religion teacher, and the pastor all smoke.