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Simon Birch

review by Zach B.

 

Rated PG

Starring: Joseph Mazzello, Ian Michael Smith, Oliver Platt, Ashley Judd, Jim Carrey

Written by Mark Steven Johnson
Suggested by John Irving's Novel "A Prayer For Owen Meany"

Directed By Mark Steven Johnson

 

Retail Price: 29.99

Features: Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Non Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French Surround Track, English Captions, Chapter Search

 

Although it was not so warmly recieved by critics, I have to say Simon Birch is one of the most enjoyable cinematic expierences I have had in a long time. Loosely based on a novel by John Irving, this movie is very underrated. The story is sweet, though somewhat predictable. The acting is top notch, especially by newcomer Ian Michael Smith and combines a nice mix of comedy and drama.

Simon Birch is a young boy who looks like a little dwarf. Growing up in a small town, Simon's parents are very disappointed in their son, all due to his physical nature. But Simon's condition doesn't stop him from anything. He believed the Lord has a "plan" for us all, and that he is the Lord's instrument, and everyone has a use for something. Simon, even though he's so tiny, has a heart which is huge. Joe is his best friend, and they have gone through a lot together. However, one day, at a baseball game, Simon's called up to home plate to hit the ball. Simon finally hits the ball, and that ball goes flying, accidently killing Joe's mother. With his mother gone, Joe and Simon now want to learn the identity of Joe's father, who he never met and his mother refused to tell him who. Along the way, there are many misadventures, right down to the edge of your seat climax, which is somewhat depressing yet has this nice feel to it, where you feel anyone can make a difference.

Simon Birch is somewhat of an uneven movie, but it's really, really enjoyable. The drama and tension which builds is very good, and there are a lot of funny moments in this movie which you'll remember. If you avoided this movie due to the panning, please go out and rent it. You'll be pleasently surprised on how good this movie is. It's warm and touches on a good lesson the audience can benefit from.

Simon Birch is presented in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. Blacks are very solid, and detail is good, though not great. My main complaint however is that some colors are unsaturated. There is also some artifacts and grain, which are noticeable throughout the film. Other than that, despite it is not 16x9 enhanced, the transfer is very good.

 

The audio is decent, the 5.1 Dolby Digital is nothing very creative, but perfectly fits the film. The movie is pretty dialogue driven, however, there are some crashes and smacks which bring life to the mix. The music shows off this mix quite nicely. Sounds are also very clear. Nothing totally original, but perfectly suitable. A french language track is also included.

The only extra is a theatrical trailer, presented in non-anamorphic widescreen. This is the standard Disney release, and I was really hoping there would be some interviews and a commentary of some kind, or at least a production featurette.

 

Simon Birch may be lacking in features, but has a very nice presentation. I find the price point of 29.99 retail a bit steep. If you liked the movie, pick up this disc. If you have not seen it, I urge you to rent it, sit back and enjoy a very entertaining movie.

(4/5, NOT included in final score)

(4/5)

(3.5/5)

(.5/5)

(3/5, NOT an average)

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