Movie Review: Heaven Is for Real

Heaven Is for Real movie review 2014

Heaven Is for Real is based off a true story in which a 4-year-old child almost dies and later says he went to Heaven. The subject matter was definitely interesting, and I knew going in that the movie would have religious themes, but later I felt a bit cheated, because the trailer makes the film seem Hollywood-esque, and instead, the movie was no better than a Lifetime made-for-TV movie.

Todd Burpo (Greg Kinnear) is a pastor, a volunteer firefighter, and has his own business. He and his wife, Sonja (Kelly Reilly), are also raising their two children, Colton and Cassie (Connor Corum and Lane Styles), and they lead a busy life together. One weekend, both children get very sick; Cassie is fine within a few days, but Colton continues to suffer high fevers, and Todd and Sonja bring him to the emergency room, where it's found that he has a ruptured appendix. The staff there is able to save him, but it's after the surgery that things start to get interesting.

I won't lie - parts of this movie are very sad/bittersweet, and had me tearing up during them. However, I'm very surprised that the film wasn't that great, since the cast is comprised of a lot of A-listers: Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly (Sherlock Holmes) are the parents in it, and Margo Martindale and Thomas Haden Church also have supporting roles. This film would have been better suited for a Hallmark or Lifetime movie, in my opinion, than a Hollywood movie; the script was just so-so, and there were a lot of abrupt cuts and transitions throughout.

Maybe see this film. Like I said before, I found the material to be very interesting, but I thought they could have done so much more with it. At the beginning of the movie, we see a girl painting what looks to be an eye, in Romania, and this doesn't tie in until the very end of the film; I had forgotten all about the girl by then. Kinnear, Martindale, Reilly, and Church give valiant efforts here, but the script is designed to be a tearjerker and overall not very good, so they don't have much to work with. I want to recommend this movie to those who like films about the "great beyond" and who wonder if Heaven really is real or not, but at the same time I feel like there have to be better films out there that you could rent instead of seeing this one in the theater.

Heaven Is for Real is in theaters today, April 16th, and is rated PG with a runtime of 100 minutes. 2.5 stars out of 5.

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