Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 23
  2. Negative: 7 out of 23
  1. Reviewed by: Hollis Chacona
    Only masterful performances keep this frankly sentimental film from foundering in a sea of syrup.
  2. 75
    Either you stand back and resist it, or you plunge in. There was something about its innocence and spunk that got to me, and I caved in.
  3. The movie is lively, funny, and endearing until melodramatics and sentimentality take over in the last few scenes.
  4. Because the movie is otherwise so well made and so full of sweet emotion and "good" values, I was happy to ignore the shortcomings.
  5. 70
    This friendly, briefly exciting story (1998), inspired by John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, achieves a nice balance between caricature and nuanced characterization and even manages not to be cloying.
  6. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Irving's dead-serious sense of spiritual purpose is here replaced with weepy sentiment and saccharine comedy. But knee-deep in syrup, the film manages to stand on its own -- mainly due to a terrific performance from young Smith and a host of winning supporting players.
  7. 60
    That Simon Birch is not as maudlin as it might have been is largely due to the intensely thoughtful, prickly performance of 11-year-old Ian Michael Smith, who plays Simon.
  8. Reviewed by: M.V. Moorhead
    The film is a feeble shadow of a book that won over even those of us who are no special fans of Irving -- it's probably his funniest, least self-conscious work.
  9. 50
    Admirers of Irving's sprawling tome are sure to find Birch a botch.
  10. The film, "suggested by" John Irving's novel "A Prayer for Owen Meany," is so unabashedly manipulative -- and implausible -- that even while crying, many viewers may also feel abused.
  11. 50
    It's an excursion into a melodramatic morass that occasionally becomes difficult to sit through because it's so cloying.
  12. Reviewed by: Ron Wells
    If you were expecting a small art film, you know you're in trouble when the first thing you see is Jim Carrey.
  13. The film does not jerk tears as much as it knocks you down and runs away with them.
  14. It allows for little of the dark and funny in Irving's picaresque morality fable. No room! Not with the buckets of bathos thrown our way, substituting for mass-market spiritual uplift!
  15. A magical child movie in which the child is magical, yes, but the movie is not.
  16. Reviewed by: Ken Marks
    This tale of faith, fate, death, and redemption is non-threatening and also non-inspiring.
  17. Reviewed by: Jack Mathews
    Johnson, on his maiden voyage as director, treats every scene as if it were a bonbon, almost too precious to consume, and Marc Shaiman's score is a running series of mood cues.
  18. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    Johnson (who scripted "Grumpy Old Men") flattens out any promise so completely that the feature resembles nothing so much as a subpar "Hallmark Hall of Fame" entry.
  19. This is a film whose sunny and insipid storytelling style is at odds with its material.
  20. Reviewed by: Simon Braund
    In the title role, newcomer Smith shows vestiges of an intuitive and moving performance, but he's swamped by a veritable tsunami of sentimentality and hamstrung by cute dialogue.
  21. 20
    A movie bloated with character cliches and a bullying score that bludgeons us into whatever emotion composer Marc Shaiman thinks we should be experiencing.
  22. 20
    There's hardly a character, plot twist, or musical theme in the whole enterprise that isn't primed to go straight for the tear ducts, as if Johnson assumes that his audience is incapable of mounting a defense.
  23. No doubt there are those who will deem Simon Birch ''heartwarming.'' It is exactly the kind of movie that has given that hackneyed superlative a bad name.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 12 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 5
  2. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. Jan 5, 2014
    This is a perfect blend of humor and a touching story that illustrates that every person has a unique purpose regardless of their physical attributes.
  2. Apr 26, 2013
    I really liked this movie, and it would have been great, but I honestly don't think the director worked hard enough. I loved the actors, and this really had potential, which is the main reason why I'm not giving this movie a bad score, and I just feel that this movie is just a disappointment.

    I understand that this movie can connect to many people out there, but that doesn't mean that it is an excellent movie.

    There are a lot better movies out there for everyone to watch, and I mean in all genres.
    Full Review »