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Time Out saysSimon Birch (Smith) may have been the smallest ever recorded delivery at his local New Hampshire hospital, but his diminutive stature doesn't stop him swimming with his pal Joe (Mazzello) and taking his turn on the Little League baseball team. Girls don't really go for him, except to call him 'cute', but the thing that really marks out Simon is his belief that God has put him on earth for a purpose, as yet unrevealed. Where will it all end? Or, indeed, when? The opening narration (by an uncredited Jim Carrey) has warned us that two of the major characters will die during the story but the odds on Simon look as short as he is. Readers of John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany may recognise some of these details. Mark Stephen Johnson's film started out as an adaptation, but drifted so far that the author demanded they change the title character's name and put 'suggested by the novel' on the credits. The tragic and the whimsical draw sparks off each other in Irving's work, but here they soften each other up, dulling the effective contribution of tiny Smith's immensely self-assured performance. With all Simon's talk about God, the detailed 1964 small town atmosphere, and Marc Shaiman's gooey score, the film proves so smugly portentous that viewer resistance kicks in long before the final reel delivers sugared cornball with syrup sauce.