How can you not like a film that has everything, that takes you a tour of all the major emotions from laughter to tears? Directed by someone who, if not Ron Howard, may as well have been Ron Howard, Simon Birch is completely likeable for all the right reasons. Don't expect to have your bookish sensibilities challenged by this pictureoh, no! Just settle in with loved onesmaybe some fresh popcornand enjoy the steady, engaging flow of this tale of young friendship.
Jim Carrey opens the film, but don't worry! He has no time to mug before the film goes into its extended flashback. I don't remember this main characters name, so let's just call him Russell. As the born-out-of-wedlock son of a delightfully gorgeous yet mysterious mother, Russell always feels like an outsider. In this portrayal of the 50's, being an outsider means being pretty well-adjusted to small town life. He manages to boil over once, causing around $10.37 in destruction, but Russell gets off the hook rather quickly. It's almost as if the ostracism and abuse in the 50's against "illegitimate" children never really existed or hurt anybody's life or self-conception. Your stomach will not turn into knots as though you were watching Bastard out of North Carolina. No, it's all just fine.
But what about the title character? Russell's friend is the town midget, a spiritually adult lad of 14. Simon and Russell are inseparable and share many adventures and misadventures. We laugh and cry along with them because the funny things they do are so funny and the sad things they do are so sad. It's funny when the fat kid vomits on his Sunday school teacher. I mean, how could it not be? And it's sad when Simon is ignored by his parents. I think we can't help but agreeing, friends, that child neglect is a tragedy.
This film is like a McDLT: The funny stays funny and the sad stays sad. I can't think of a single upsetting, controversial, leftist, or difficult moment in the entire film, and that's a very comfortable thing. It's like a pillow: not a sculpted foam lumbar pad with embedded 2,000-gauss magnets, but just a plain and simple pillow. It takes no effort to lay upon.
Before I forget: I'd like to get your requests. Yes, Gooden Worsted is now taking requests. I'd like to think that my near-random choices of video entertainment and review will provide some useful or interesting material to readers. But if you have a video you've thought about renting, but haven't been sure about, let me do the hoof-work and eye-work for you! So, send me a request! I promise to take it under advisement.
IN CINEMA 2:
If I were a theater critic, I would have given Andrew Lloyd Weber's Starlight Express as low as 7 starsoff the scale if you know Gooden! I might even have gone so far as to say that its stereotyped, monochromatic characers were "offensive to my intelligence." Evita, starring the buxom and talented Madonna, was, in my opinion, a trumped-up melodrama that presented the least incisive view of history and this historical figure. But that Antonio Banderas! (I heard Mrs. Worsted audibly meowing.)
Jesus Christ Superstar is different. Weber wrote the music, not the lyrics, and with that focus, or with his youth, he managed to compose some challenging yet catchy songs that remain interesting even though the hippie aesthetic has faded. Musicians will appreciate syncopations to match jazz's Dave Bruebeck. The costumes and dance numbers are period pieces, but still enjoyable to watch. Christians and others will see several parables acted, sung, and danced, but the play's writer, John Rice, or Reid, or something, I think a four-letter name starting with R, in an effort to work as many bible stories in, left everything superficial.
In all, it felt on the long side, but to its credit I watched it all
the way through despite my early inclination to read over some warranty
information for my new stereo while listening to the video in the background.
©1999 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. All rights happily reserved.