Release Date: Wednesday April 16, 2014
Run Time: 100 Minutes
MPAA Rating: PG
As you might remember from my previous post on Parenting Without Faith, religion is something that we think a lot about in our household. I think it’s for that reason that I was so excited to discover “Heaven Is For Real”. The movie (and adapted screenplay of the book with the same name), which has a release date just in time for the Easter holiday, is based on the true story of the Burpo family. After Nebraska born Colton, the son of Todd and Sonja, apparently has what is commonly referred to as a “Near Death Experience”, he begins to recount his journey to Heaven and back rocking his family to the core.
I will be the first to admit my skepticism regarding the accuracy of the story. It’s hard to digest the possibility of a young child actually spending time in the afterlife and one has to wonder whether or not his experiences were influenced by the religion in which he was raised or if he would have witnessed the same regardless. I was also a little bothered by the fact that they kept bringing up the financial situation of the Burpo family throughout the film. As a natural skeptic, I thought they would have had better luck without those details. Regardless of my personal feelings, doubt, and questions regarding the storyline, the movie was very well done.
What I appreciated most about the film was the way that the cast portrayed the familial relationships that were such a huge part of the story. From the performances of Greg Kinnear (Todd Burpo) and Kelly Reilly (Sonja Burpo) as a loving couple who puts Christ at the center of their family to Margo Martindale (Nancy Rawling) and Thomas Haden Church (Jay Wilkins) who perfectly portray the most caring and loving friends a family could ask for, every cast member worked together to bring this story to life.
The intended audience (Christian families in search of a feel good Easter film) will love the message this season. Overall, on my scale from one to ten where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “Heaven Is For Real” a 7.839 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “Hallelujah!”