Destiny has big plans for little Simon Birch.
Sappy little movie that tries to tug at your heartstrings and almost pulls it off.
The best things about Simon Birch are the many very good performances served up by most of the leading cast. A particularly noteworthy performance is turned in by Ashley Judd as Rebecca Wenteworth, the mother of Simon's best friend. She is an actor simply waiting for the right role to launch her to superstardom. In the meantime, she seems destined to be the best thing in some pretty average movies—A Time To Kill comes to mind.
Newcomer Ian Michael Smith, does a fine job portraying the quizzical, satirical, optimist Simon. Whether his range as an actor holds any extendibility remains to be seen, however. Jim Carrey, in an attempt to gain some screen credibility, turns up as our narrator. He does an admirable, if not spectacular job. It seems he is straining to get some more serious looks from filmmakers with this performance. Any doubts about his talents should be put to rest after his fine performance in The Truman Show.
The video quality is typical Disney. Very good, but not as good as it could have been with anamorphic treatment. Maybe some time soon Disney will figure it out. Then again, maybe not. The colors were solid, but not as deep and rich as they could have been. Edges were a bit soft as well. This could have been due to some camera work and filtering, but probably not.
The audio quality was as good as to be expected from a dialogue driven movie. Dialogue was generally clear and well placed, with a few exceptions, which were nearly unintelligible, despite the fact I had my volume control turned way up. Again, a film production issue, rather than a flaw in the production of the DVD.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The biggest flaw with this disc is the story itself. The premise of a boy who believes wholeheartedly that God has big, big plans for him was not in and of itself a failure. But the direction the film takes after the setup leaves something to be desired. My main concern is exactly what the message of the film was supposed to be. Is it that we should never underestimate someone because of their physical appearance? If so, then this statement remains unresolved at the end of the film. In the end, this film tugs at your heartstrings, but falls a little short. I think my main problem is that the film sets you up to believe that Simon will prove his prophecy right and be a "hero," but will do so in some extraordinary or miraculous way. In the end, however, Simon steps up to the plate and knocks out a double rather than a home run.
I will try to relate my feelings at the end of this movie with an analogy. Imagine that you've seen a trailer for a movie several times, but the movie itself is not at all like the trailer portrayed it. Think Gattaca here, or any other example you can think of. That's how I felt. The promising setup was completely different from the real ending. Oh well. The film is not bad, just disappointing.
Naturally I have to take Disney to task for their complete lack of extras. This disc included a theatrical trailer of the film and a "recommendations" page. What I hate about these stupid pages is the studios only advertise their own wares now available on DVD. As an example, if you liked Simon Birch, Disney recommends you see Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society, Marvin's Room, The English Patient, Sling Blade or Kundun. Please. Give me a break. Not one of these movies is anything like Simon Birch. Wake up and smell the celluloid, Disney!
A fairly feeble story saved by some pretty decent acting. Worth a rental.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Hollywood Pictures
Review content copyright © 1999 Sean McGinnis; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.