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Smile (2005)

PG-13 | | Adventure, Drama | 8 April 2005 (USA)
2:07 | Trailer

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High school student Katie signs up for a trip to China, where she meets Lin, who has a facial deformity that discourages her from ever showing her face, but her friendship with Katie helps her start to see life in a new way.


(as Jeff Kramer)


(as Jeff Kramer)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mr. Matthews
Shuai Chi ...
Jia Song ...
Daniel's Wife
Essie Shure ...
Ticket Agent
Yaojun Feng ...
Hua Zhu ...


Katie, a teenage girl from Malibu, California, finds herself in the throes of growing up, facing her parents, her boyfriends, her sexuality and a very privileged life. Half a world away in rural, China, Lin, born on the same day as Katie, faces a much different reality. Because of a severe facial deformity, she lives a life of fear and shame. Her father, Daniel, has devoted his life to her, with hopes and dreams that her circumstances will change one day. The opportunity comes with the discovery of the worldwide "Doctor's Gift" program. Katie volunteers and comes to China. Once there, she is deeply touched by the work, which prompts her to take off on her own to find Lin. A "smile" is brought to Lin's face, Katie finds her soul and their extraordinary connection becomes a life-changing experience for both girls. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Based on 80,000 true stories. See more »


Adventure | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some mature content involving teen sexuality | See all certifications »


Official Sites:




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Release Date:

8 April 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Força de um Sorriso  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


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User Reviews

A spoiled American teen needs an outcast Chinese teen to smile; and vice versa
7 March 2015 | by See all my reviews

"Smile" is an independent film from 2005 about an American girl and a Chinese girl born on the same day. Kate (Mika Boorem) lives the good life as a typical Southern California good-lookin' blond whereas Lin (Yi Ding) was discarded like trash as an infant by her parents because of a facial deformity. Thankfully, a man rescues the girl and sacrifices all to see to it that she has a quality life (Luoyong Wang). The two girls meet when Kate decides to take part in a program encouraged by her teacher Mr. Matthews (Sean Astin). The story's a cumulative creation based on thousands of true stories, including one of an American teen and Chinese teen. A picture of the two is featured at the end.

The cinematography, locations, score/soundtrack, etc. are professional-level filmmaking and there are a few big names in the cast, like Linda Hamilton and Beau Bridges as Kate's parents, not to mention Astin. Although this is one of those tear-jerking inspirational dramas, it's also a coming-of-age flick. To be expected, the story goes back-and-forth between Kate and Lin. The latter's life is quite sad, except for her adoptive father, while the former's life plays out like the usual teenage-babe-in-high-school yarn. I don't mean that in a bad way because Kate's (melo)drama helps hook the viewer into the story and is one of the film's strengths. Another positive is that the filmmakers don't try to play your heart-strings too early. The whole story is a build-up to the revelation at the end and, I have to confess, it brought tears to both my wife and me.

Unfortunately, you can tell that this is a low-budget movie in regards to the weak acting in several scenes. When a movie has the funds the filmmakers will take several shots of the same scene until they get it just right; and they'll kick axx if they have to in order to get the best out of the actors. Here you can tell that they set up scenes and shot them very quickly with the attitude of "That's good enough." Why? Because time is money and they didn't have the money to take all day to shoot one or two scenes, so they got the best they could on their limited budget. Another negative is that the story is too by-the-numbers. You're watching a scene and it feels like actors following the contrived words of a script rather than what they would do or say in real life, which ruins the movie's illusion of reality. If you can ignore these flaws, however, this is a worthwhile inspirational drama. Being shot in China, it gives Westerners a good spotlight into the lives of common people in that country.

The film runs 107 minutes and was shot in Malibu, California, and Jingxi & Shanghai, China.


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