‘Simon Birch’ (1998)



Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Over Abundantly Sappy

Sigh. It’s time to review the Jim Carrey movies that aren’t really Jim Carrey movies. Well most of the remaining films at least. That’s right, the movies that are either good or bad with a small role from Jim. Up first is a film that was released in the last 90s called “Simon Birch“. This movie has Jim Carrey in the first two minutes and last two minutes of the film, all the while narrating different parts of the movie. So keep in mind that you only see him for 3-4 minutes throughout the film. Sad faces all around? Well it’s about to get sadder, because that was the intention of “Simon Birch“, or as I would like to call it, “My Dog Skip“…with a human child.

Simon Birch (Ian Michael Smith) is not your average run-of-the-mill pre-teen. No, he was born with a growth-deficiency making him not only incredibly short, but he also had a really squeaky and high-pitched voice that got on some people’s nerves. Even though his outward appearance was small, his personality was really big. He believed whole-heartedly that he was created small as a part of God’s ultimate will, and he would be used as God’s instrument in life to be some kind of hero. Things continue to look down for him though, as he keeps messing up, as the people in the town continue to think. Meanwhile, his best friend Joe (Joseph Mazzello) is searching for his true father with the help of Simon.

The movie is very spiritual. It is almost a Christian movies, and it astonishes me at how many uses of the “S” word are used in the movie and it maintained a PG rating. Movies really got away with stuff like that in the past. Seriously though, this movie is the type of “Christian” movie that I actually like. There is no sit down accepting Christ, it just has a very clear message of faith and spirituality and yeah, people cuss. Get over it, that’s what they do in real life too. So without meaning too, they actually accomplished something a lot of other Christian films failed terribly at, getting the message across to non-Christians of faith. Still surprised me of the PG movie, this movie would have easily gotten a stricter rating than that nowadays.

Why do I call it “My Dog Skip” with a human child instead of a dog? Easy, there was a lot of movies in the mid to late 90’s that were done in a specific way. Specifically-speaking, drama/comedies had the cheesy, stereotypical comedy music while everyone is laughing and having a fun time…you know…doot doot doot we’re happy. Then something sad happens, and it is overly-depressing. Then of course the dog dies, and yes. Simon dies, and that’s not spoiling anything, you learn that within the first few seconds of the film, as the future version of Joe (Carrey) is standing in a cemetery looking at a tombstone. Is it predictable, absolutely, it was just trying to show you what brought Joe to believe in God.

The acting in the movie was great, Ian Michael Smith was just phenomenal as Simon Birch, and you do feel for him.  There were moments where I laughed where I shouldn’t because it didn’t seem believable, because it was over-the-top, but for the most part, it was done well. The direction of the film is a bit confusing, but once you get the hang of it, it makes sense. It’s about Simon trying to find purpose in his life, and about Joe finding his father, ultimately about finding faith and proof of God’s will.

Nowadays, this film is not for everyone. It’s incredibly sappy, and seems like a perfect fit for a Hallmark or ABC Family movie (once they cut out the language). It has a very well thought-out message and moral to the story, but it just simply does not translate to modern expectations of film anymore. When it first came out, people loved it, but since then, its ratings has declined quite a bit, and I’m not very surprised at that fact.

It is an interesting watch from time to time, but if it were to be added to a DVD collection, it will most likely catch some dust before ultimately sitting on display at your next garage sale.


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