Young Simon Birch (Smith) believes he's destined to become a hero, and that his disability--dwarfism resulting from Morquio's syndrome--is actually a gift from God to facilitate his destiny. After his best friend Joe's idolized mother dies, the two decide to track down Joe's father, who hasn't been seen for years. The quest leads to the climactic disaster that is the impetus for the heroics Simon has been waiting for. Smith's onscreen presence is the main attraction, as most of the emotion and inspiration in the source material, John Irving's novel "A Prayer for Owen Meany," is absent. Irving demanded both the character name change (Meany to Birch) and a screen credit change--from "based on" to "suggested by."