Heaven is For Real

2014-05-09 11:36
 
What it's about:

The story of a small-town father who must find the courage and conviction to share his son’s extraordinary, life-changing experience with the world. His son, Colton, claims to have visited Heaven during a near death experience. Colton recounts the details of his experience with childlike innocence and speaks matter-of-factly about things that happened before his birth—things he couldn't possibly have known. Todd and his family are then challenged to examine the meaning of this remarkable event.

What we thought:

2014 is turning out to be the year of faith-based films. Heaven is For Real is the latest religious film to hit cinemas.

The film is based on the number 1 New York Times bestselling book of the same name about the real-life story of Todd Burpo whose 4-year-old son had a near-death experience in 2004.

The central plot revolves around Todd and his family with  subplots involving a church member and a little girl, who can be seen painting  in the opening scenes of the film..

Greg Kinnear plays Todd Burpo, a multi-tasking pastor in a small Nebraska town who works four jobs to make ends meet. His dedicated wife Sonja (Kelly Rielly) leads the church choir and they have two children Cassie (Lane Styles) and Colton (Connor Corum). The first scenes of the movie give us a glimpse into their daily lives and we get to know a bit about the family. Todd breaks his leg while playing soft ball, then suffers from kidney stones, has a crisis of faith and their bills start mounting. Their life is not a 7th Heaven episode.

Colton suffers a ruptured appendix and needs emergency surgery. He recovers and tells his father he visited heaven, he met Jesus, angles sang to him and he met dead relatives whom he couldn’t possibly know as he has never met them before and recalls events that he couldn’t have witnessed.

Colton’s vision of heaven is portrayed in the stereotypical children’s biblical story book way. Jesus in sandals and what seems to be a bathrobe, and we don’t see his face. I wished that what Colton saw was left to the imagination, it would have worked better in my opinion.

Even though Todd is a man of faith he grapples with his son’s testimony. The seasoned Greg Kinnear does an amazing job as Todd. I liked that the preacher is humanised and not a self-righteous know it all. The star of the show is without a doubt Connor Corum. His cherub like innocence and his child-like conviction is so natural that you cannot help but want to believe him.

The film gets some points for trying to engage a healthy debate amongst the community and congregation members who don’t blindly believe the story of Colton’s experience. It also gives viewers an inside look at church politics. Thomas Haden Church and Margot Martindale play two church board members who tell Todd to toe the line or else they’ll have to look for another leader for their flock.  A preacher’s kid myself this hit a nerve. The ugly world of internal church politics and power struggles is not something always shown.

To give Colton’s story credibility, it  is wrapped up neatly with that of another girl who too claims to have had the same experience. I won’t give the spoiler away, but here again I don’t think it really was necessary. Corum’s conviction in his experience has already drawn us into the story.

Believers will find this heart warming tale plays all the right chords while the softened tone-downed feel of the Christian movie will not offend non-believers. It leaves room for questioning and doubt.


A faith-based movie that will hit the right chords with believers and not offend non-believers.
Read more on:    heaven is for real  |  movies

grity gerty 2014/05/12 2:31 AM
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Colton in the movie said there are no old people in heaven although to a 4 year old a picture of his Dad's Grandfather that he said he saw in heaven would be old to him. Strange if there are no old people in heaven as the movie claims how does a baby grow into a little girl and when would the aging stop. I would say the Grandfather that he recognized in an old picture is old. Those two things made me a doubter of the story.
Marvel 2014/06/26 10:13 AM
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Interesting movie
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