October 19, 1998 12:00 PM

Kieran Culkin, Elden Henson, Sharon Stone

Little guys with huge medical problems are big at the movies this fall. First, there was the tiny kid hero of syrupy Simon Birch. Now, in the far better The Mighty, there’s a brainiac seventh grader on crutches (Culkin, younger brother of Macaulay) who takes on a murderer.

The Mighty, based on Rodman Philbrick’s young adult novel Freak the Mighty, is about the friendship that develops between Culkin, whose character suffers from Morquio’s syndrome, a degenerative bone disease, and the hulking, monosyllabic boy next door (Henson).

British director Peter Chesholm (Hear My Song) gets personable performances from his two young stars as well as a nicely understated one from Stone as Culkin’s mom. And Gillian Anderson, playing a boozy floozy, shows off more pizzazz in her few scenes here than she did in the entire X-Files movie last summer. (PG-13)

Bottom Line: Mighty decent little movie for older kids

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