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If you used a few tissues at the end of "Titanic," you should bring along a whole box for "Simon Birch."

"Simon Birch" is amazing because it can somehow bring a smile to the face of about anyone and a tear to their eyes, too.

Simon, at birth, was born "no bigger than a baby bird," and he stays unusually small as he ages. Simon's best friend, Joe, is a tall, good-looking, athletic teen-ager from one of the wealthier families in the small Maine town where Simon lives. Yet Joe feels like an outsider among the other kids, too, due to family troubles.

The two "outsiders" form a bond that has enough strength to withstand the heaviest strain. Simon believes that God made him for a reason, to fulfill a special mission. One of the movie's themes is Simon's quest for his "purpose" in life -- heroism. The other deals with Joe's search for clues to the identity of his father. Joe is played by Joseph Mazzello, who was in the blockbuster "Jurassic Park."

Ian Michael Smith, as Simon Birch, brings a certain self-esteem to the character. As we watch him, we're not pitying him because of his disability, we're cheering for him to succeed. David Straithairn plays the Rev. Russell, rector of the local Episcopal church, the congregation attended by Joe's family and Simon.

The main cast is rounded out by Ashley Judd, who plays Joe's mother, Rebecca, with a wonderful charm that never seems too sweet.

"Simon Birch" originally began as a project to adapt John Irving's novel "A Prayer for Owen Meany" to the screen. But after the script changed so much, the title was changed.

In a world where big-name, big-budget movies get all the attention, give "Simon Birch" a try. I promise, this little boy with big dreams won't let you down.

Kate Nowadly is a junior at City Honors High School.

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