By now, most people know that I am not a fan of the “Christian” movie genre when these films are more about teaching than storytelling and making sure audiences get “the message” rather than trusting them to use their own moral and religious imagination to savor the story. These films might be movies, but they are certainly not art. In response to the film “God’s Not Dead,” I wrote an essay called “How movies can save people,” and I make the distinction between “Christian” genre films that are confessional in nature (think “Facing the Giants” or any film from Pure Flix, Randy Travis’ and his former wife’s company) and films that tell a great story that happens to be about Christians, such as “The Blind Side.”
And now, here comes “Heaven is for Real,” based on the 2010 best-selling book Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, written by Todd Burpo (the child’s father) and Lynn Vincent.
When young Colton (Connor Corum), not even 4 years old, becomes ill and must have emergency surgery, his parents are frantic. Todd (Greg Kinnear) is a Methodist pastor in the Midwest, and he rails at God in the hospital chapel. He has had several health issues himself, and the family is struggling financially, so this seems to be too much. Todd’s wife, Sonja (Kelly Reilly), in another room, starts to call members of the church to ask for prayers.Meanwhile, the doctors are working on little Colton, who never stops breathing and whose heart never stops beating.
Colton makes it through the surgery, and as life gets back to normal, Colton casually mentions to Todd one day that he met Jesus during the operation, that he had gone to heaven, that he saw his dad yelling at God and his mom talking on the phone in another room during the operation. Todd is astounded and tries not to ask leading questions. Colton goes on, over time, to describe Jesus, how he met Todd’s beloved grandfather, how heaven is like Earth, only much more colorful, and how Jesus has a horse.
Todd shares this news with Sonja, who doesn’t know what to say. Then Colton, alone with his mother one day, tells her something he could have no way of knowing. Sonja is astounded.
As word gets around, people want to know more about Colton’s trip to heaven. Meanwhile, the family business is in crisis CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING MY REVIEW