Heaven Is for Real
Death is something that a lot of people are afraid of. I too have thought about the eventual debt, though I don’t let it become a problem. Nobody wants to leave this world, because their uncertain with what happens next. Is there a place we all go to? Do we become reborn? Is there nothing? It’s hard to answer from a scientific point, as nothing is certain. I can only say that as a Christian, I do believe in an afterlife. I do feel like that there is a higher power that put us people on Earth to live and work. So it’s only so that people are rewarded for their lifetime of sacrifice.
But what about people that are gone too soon, like a family member who was a victim of a car cash or a child that was defeated by some disease? Was it something that took them away? I can’t say that I know what it feels like, as I’ve had the privilege of not loosing someone (at least not too soon), but it brings heartache to plenty of others. These people are mad at god, but they also fear that they don’t go anywhere and that they really are gone for good. One kid may be a miracle in Heaven Is for Real.
In a small town in Nebraska, a local Christian pastor Todd Burpo (played by Greg Kinnear) does his best to bring people back to his church to talk about the importance of faith in the worst of times. He’s also a garage door installer and a family man with two children. Todd ends up with a series of injuries from a broken foot to back trouble that makes things hard for him. Things become much harder when his boy Colton suffers a burst appendix and needs to go into emergency surgery.
The doctors tell the parents that things are not looking good, so they make calls to friends to prey for their child. Colton wakes up the same as usual until he tells his dad that he went to heaven. When asked, Colton says that he saw Jesus, angels, his unborn sister and his great grandfather. Todd isn’t sure how to react to this, considering that Colton saw things that cannot be explained. His church officials even start to consider replacing Todd, not looking for their congregation to become a circus. Todd needs to consider what’s better; that his son had a hallucination or whether he really just proved that there is an afterlife.
When I went in to Heaven Is for Real, I thought that this was going to be another preachy, made-for-TV quality film that was made to please Christian audiences. It’s not as preachy as I thought. In fact, the smartly written screenplay has Todd exploring his position as a religious leader and the possibility of an afterlife, while thinking about his family and job. It’s surprising with not only how the story tries to take an intelligent route, but also with how great the picture looks. Seriously, the cinematography really takes the small town and confining church to recreate a heavenly feel for the place.
As I said, the story is smart…in one angle. As interesting as Todd is, I really wish it could have put a little focus on Colton and how his brief glimpse into the heavens has affected him. I’m not saying it has to be dark, but a child can take in a lot when something unearthly is witnessed. Speaking of exploration, I was hoping that more people like scientists, philosophers or other religious leaders would come in to explore their thoughts on a little boy seeing heaven. We get a visit to one psychologist that doesn’t go anywhere. We don’t even get to see a medical opinion on this.
I’ll give this three heavenly halos out of five. Heaven Is for Real will get a lot of rescreening as churches and will certainly find a family friendly audience, but if the movie was willing to take a risker look, then I would have liked this better. I can’t really hate a movie that still gets it’s good intentions through. If you’re curious, Heaven Is for Real is worth at least one viewing.