Heaven is for Real ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp
Heaven is for Real is based on a book and is supposedly a true story. Greg Kinnear plays a down-to-earth, small-town Nebraska minister named Todd Burpo. (I know—that’s kind of an absurd name.) He has a wife and two children. His son, named Colton, becomes inexplicably sick with a high fever. When Todd and his wife take Colton to the hospital after four days (why didn’t they take him sooner?), doctors find he has a ruptured appendix. They rush him into surgery but he is seriously ill and might not live. He eventually recovers, though, and the life of the family resumes as it was before Colton’s illness.
Soon, however, Colton begins to speak in a matter-of-fact way about things he saw when he was sick. He says he left his body (how could a four-year-old understand an out-of-body experience?) and saw himself on the operating table from above. He knew where his parents were and what they were doing while he was unconscious. He saw winged angels flying down toward him and when he was in heaven, he sat on Jesus’ lap and the lap of his long-dead great-grandfather. He met a little girl in “heaven” who, we find out later, was his sister who died before she was born, an event that Colton never knew about.
Were these “visions” just a childish fantasy, or did Colton really experience them? How is this story going to affect the community and Todd’s family? Believers continue to believe, but there’s plenty for scoffers to scoff at. Questions of faith are raised. Do you believe blindly, “taking out your brain and replacing it with the Bible,” as one character says, or do you harbor a certain amount of skepticism? When one child lives and another dies, what is the reason? Of course, there aren’t any answers to these questions, but people continue to ask them. Colton’s mother says at one point, during all the attempts at analysis, “Why can’t it just be a mystery?”
Heaven is for Real is a portrait of a family and a community. Like The Son of God earlier this year, it’s the kind of mainstream movie you don’t usually see at the multiplex. With all the Spiderman, Captain America, and X-Men movies being fed to the public these days, it’s good to see a movie every now and then that examines questions of faith and other issues that actually affect people’s lives.
Copyright © 2014 by Allen Kopp