"Buena Vista Presents:'Jim Henson's Billy Barty Babies'!"
Did I earn my ticket to hell with that quote? I should have some serious frequent flyer miles racked up by now.
Here's my 'Manic Martha Stewart' recipe for this film: Bring 2 quarts Patch Adams styled oscar-grovelling smaltz to a boil, add 1 cup of the sappiest moments from Stand By Me and let stand (by me)...lightly sprinkle with some decent actors and a good message. Walla! Simon Birch, serves 4. And I don't mean that in a Jonathan Swift way.Obviously, my cooking is about as good as my rapping (See 'Bulworth' review). This film isn't really all that bad. It's contrived as all hell, and you can bet that it often plays like an episode of 'Touched By an Angel' (Not to be confused with my in-development script called 'Molested By an Anglo:The Bob Packwood Story'). There is however a couple of good performances here and there, and even though I'm a cynical git, I can't fault the script's message of personal faith and purpose. There's enough cynicism out there anyways...I should know because I supply about %20 of it. So, as far as attempting something difficult, Simon B gets an A for effort from me.
The cast was pretty well-rounded...however, why do I get the feeling this movie tries to rip off 'Stand By Me' right down to the voice over narratives? Jim Carrey sure ain't no Richard Drypuss. Also, was it really necessary for the title character to make a goofy face everytime some shenanigans were about to take place? I thought that was Sly Stallone's territory.
Ashley Judd makes an appearance, and the movie goes out of its way having the men & boys drool and stammer over her beauty. (SPOILER) I'm sorry, but when that baseball cold-cocked her, I half expected them to all fight over giving her CPR. Oliver Platt puts in a fine performance as a love interest (not as scary as it sounds). I'm also glad to see that Jan Hooks is still working and hasn't fallen victim to the Saturday Night Live curse...that is to say, not overdosing or dying violently. She's good in everything & I wish she got more lines. The kid playing the excitable Simon Birch did suprisingly well considering this was probably his first film role. Cheap jokes aside, he was good for somebody with no acting experience. I hope Peter Jackson or somebody casts him in 'Lord of the Rings' before George Lucas has him throwing acorns and pulling slapstick gags with a step'n'fetchit CGI penis or something.Rent it only if you aren't repulsed by feel-good type films. Otherwise, Simon Birch just plays out like a poor facsimile of the much better Forrest Gump...