This comedy-drama features a narration by Jim Carrey, looking back to childhood in a manner similar to the narration on TV's The Wonder Years. The film is the directorial debut of writer Mark Steven Johnson, scripter of Grumpy Old Men and its sequel. Johnson adapted only a small portion of John Irving's 600-page novel A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989), but Irving requested a credit other than "based on" and also asked that the character name of Owen Meany be changed. So Owen became Simon Birch -- which then required a title change. In the title role is 11-year-old Ian Michael Smith, who is afflicted with Morquio's syndrome, a genetic disorder which causes dwarfism. The story begins when Joe Wenteworth (Jim Carrey) visits the grave of his childhood friend Simon Birch, whose stone is marked 1952-64. Joe explains that Simon is "the reason I believe in God." This is followed by a flashback to their friendship during the early '60s. In Gravestown, New Hampshire, young Joe Wenteworth (Joseph Mazzello) doesn't know who his father is, and his loving mother Rebecca (Ashley Judd) won't tell him. Joe's best buddy is young Simon Birch, born so tiny that his classmates pass him about like a "doll." Neglected at home, Simon turns to Rebecca as a surrogate mother, and he often has dinner with the Wenteworths. One night, Rebecca brings her friend Ben Goodrich (Oliver Platt) home for dinner, which annoys her crotchety mother (Dana Ivey). Later, the lives of the two 12-year-olds receive a cruel twist, and the two then become more curious to learn the secret of Joe's father. Shown in competition at the 1998 Montreal Film Festival.