Heaven is for Real

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +4

Content: +3

Greg Kinnear, Connor Corum, Kelly Reilly, Margo Martindale, Thomas Haden Church. Drama. Written by Chris Parker and Randall Wallace, from a book by the real life Todd Burpo. Directed by Randall Wallace.

FILM SYNOPSIS: When his four-year-old son nearly dies on the operating table and later tells his dad he saw Heaven, a small-town minister must find the courage and conviction to share his son's extraordinary, life-changing experience with the world.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Wow! Imagine, a movie in theaters that bespeaks of the reality of God and Heaven! Heaven is for Real has been well crafted so as to suggest the existence of Jesus and angels, and that Heaven is a place of the beauty of Earth multiplied. Jesus has a horse, according to the movie, and there are other animals in Heaven. (I doubt animals have souls, but havenít you been hoping your favorite pet from childhood is there waiting for you?!)

At one point in the film, a woman asks the pastor if he believes her slain military son is in Heaven. His words of consolation stem from his belief that God loves us even more than we love our own. From this she takes comfort in the belief that her nonreligious son is up there. This may raise an eyebrow by those who wisely view Hollywood movies skeptically when it comes to biblical matters. But though the film doesnít necessary pronounce a need to accept Jesus as Savior, neither does it deny it. So, while we should be discerning when it comes to Hollywoodís interpretations of Scripture, we can delight in the fact that there are some in the film industry who want to bring heavenly matters to the big screen. The best of these film productions leave viewers embracing the fact that we arenít merely mental and physical beings, but spiritual ones, as well.

When I see films such as Life of Pi, The Tree of Life, and Heaven is for Real, I get excited that they will generate interest in the eternal. Now, donít get me wrong when I say the following, as I believe there is only one way to an eternal relationship with God and thatís through Jesus Christ. But, perhaps the purpose of a filmmaker is not to direct the way to Christ necessarily, so much as to testify for spiritual awareness. Such a movie can set the stage for dialogue. And a film dealing with the subject of the soul should remind the faithful of our duty as Christís ambassadors. Heaven is for Real gently reminds us that we shouldnít fear to witness, but to be child-like in our faith while being mature in our scriptural study.

There are so many touching moments in this film, not the least of which is the montage where people all over town, from relatives to firemen, are seen praying for this child while heís being operated on. The shot of a grandfather praying with his little grandson got to me. There is so much evil in our world that it uplifts to see a tableau representing pure good. That screen moment did.

I suppose a couple of scenes will generate thoughts of ďhow cornyĒ in cynics, but not so much in those who have lost a child or have struggled with Godís timing. In the film, prayers are spoken, sermons are given in a church, with the cross hanging dominantly in the background, and questions are intelligently and movingly addressed concerning a believerís anger towards God.

The film is well constructed and engrossing, offering a shining example to Christian filmmakers on how to deal with spiritual matters in a professional manner. Of course, it helps to have an actor of Greg Kinnearís stature, sincerity and vulnerability. Little Connor Corum ainít bad, either..

Now available on DVD & Blu-ray, with features including deleted scenes and a featurette.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Sony Pictures

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: I caught no objectionable language.

Profanity: None

Violence: When her little brother is mocked by school bullies, his older sister punches them in the nose, knocking them down. Good.

Sex: None, but it is clear that the central couple have a good marriage.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: None

Other: None

Running Time: 100 minutes
Intended Audience: 10 and Up

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