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i saw simon birch in a basically sold out theater , on a sunday afternoon .
when the movie was over and the audience was exiting , i didn't hear one negative comment , and i didn't have any to offer .
simon birch is primarily about the friendship of two twelve year old boys , simon ( ian michael smith ) and joe ( joseph mazzello ) , and what destiny holds for both of them .
simon is a dwarf , who was not supposed to last through the night after birth due to a weak heart .
surprisingly , he does , and now constantly reminds everyone that he is a living miracle .
simon thinks god has a plan for him , a purpose for his life , and his condition , he just doesn't know what .
joe is an illegitimate child ( referred to both comically and dramatically throughout the film as a bastard ) , who's mom ( ashley judd ) won't tell him who his father is .
simon has more than just dwarfism as a problem , the people in the town don't really like him , because he isn't " natural " .
even his own parents don't care about him , and are disappointed they didn't have a " normal " son .
he is also harassed in church by the local pastor , rev . russell ( david strathairn ) and simon's chain smoking sunday school teacher played by jan hooks .
the only person , other than joe , that really cares for simon is joe's mom , who he also looks up to as a mother .
it would be just simon's luck , that he would accidentally kills joe's mom , something you are told at the beginning of the movie .
joe , now motherless as well as fatherless , feels the need to find out who his real father is .
with the help of ben ( oliver platt ) , the local drama teacher and joe's mom's current boyfriend ( before her death ) , he will attempt to locate his dad and get in a little trouble on the way .
most of this trouble is laugh out loud funny , although not all of it is .
simon will also look for god's plan for him , although he loses a little faith along the way .
starring in the first ( and last ) five minutes of the film is hollywood's newest dramatic actor , jim carrey .
jim plays the adult version of joe and does a impressive job starting the film off , and then tying it up just right .
this is the first character jim has played that is not over the top in anyway , and he does a commendable job .
simon birch is written and directed by mark steven johnson , this is his first film as director , but he has written several films , including the grumpy old men series .
he does an outstanding writing and directing job here , the film's structure is flawless and its flows together perfectly .
the dialog goes from extremely funny to morose without missing a beat .
the cast is excellent .
joseph mazzello gives the stand out performance .
joseph is outstanding for someone of any age , not alone someone who just turned 15 .
ian michael smith , in his film debut , has such a strong physical presence that you believe he is simon without any hesitation .
other great performances are turned in by the rest of the supporting cast .
i loved this movie , it is far and away one of the best films i have seen all year .
take your whole family to see simon birch , it is a magnificent film- an american masterpiece .
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