Frank Rautenbach leads a strong cast as Angus Buchan, a Zambian farmer of Scottish heritage, who leaves his farm in the midst of political unrest and racially charged land reclaims and ... See full summary »
Regardt van den Bergh
Based on the #1 New York Times best-selling book of the same name, HEAVEN IS FOR REAL brings to the screen the true story of a small-town father who must find the courage and conviction to share his son's extraordinary, life-changing experience with the world. The film stars Academy Award® nominee and Emmy® award winning actor Greg Kinnear as Todd Burpo and co-stars Kelly Reilly as Sonja Burpo, the real-life couple whose son Colton (newcomer Connor Corum) claims to have visited Heaven during a near death experience. Colton recounts the details of his amazing journey with childlike innocence and speaks matter-of-factly about things that happened before his birth ... things he couldn't possibly know. Todd and his family are then challenged to examine the meaning from this remarkable event. Written by
Sony Pictures Publicity
The Lithuanian painting girl who appears at the beginning and ending of the movie, played by Ursula Clark, is based on the real-life girl Akiane Kramarik, who affirmed to have experienced an NDE and to have met Jesus in heaven. In addition, the painting about Jesus shown in the movie is the real painting made by Kramarik. See more »
There is a scene in the movie that depicts the Burpo's home shaking due to a train passing by. In reality, although there are train tracks that go into Imperial, they do not pass through - they literally stop in Imperial, although the track bed was laid out for miles past the west side of the town. In addition, the Burpo's home is located at the north end of Imperial where the tracks come into town on the south side. See more »
Is heaven a hope? Or as real as the earth and sky? I once asked my grandfather that question. And he said by the time he knew the answer, it would be too late for him to tell me. The day would come when I asked that question again, staring into the eyes of my son.
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Heaven Is for Real (1:39, PG) borderline, 3rd string, original
You might be surprised that this film attracted an atheist activist like me. But I went to see it because as part of my self-imposed obligation to catch EVERY science-fiction and fantasy movie that hits town so I can review them for my listserv and at SF cons it looked like it might have some fantasy elements. I ended up classifying it as "borderline", which is where I put movies that are not clearly SF or fantasy but might be if viewed from a certain angle. This one leaves it open to interpretation whether little 4-year-old Colton Burpo actually experienced a trip to heaven while he was unconscious on the operating table at death's doorstep with a burst appendix.
The Burpos are presented as being among the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, and not in any "holier than thou" sense but as solid, down-to-Earth working folk, a kind, loving, and happy family. The dad, Todd Burpo, a part-time Protestant minister in Imperial, Kansas, is humble and declines the title "Reverend", saying "Call me Todd" even to members of his own congregation. He wears a work shirt and sits in the pews with the other congregants while the church service is doing other things, like Bible readings or singing led by Todd's wife Sonja.
The skeptical attitude is clearly articulated by several different characters in the film, including Todd Burpo himself, who's obviously having trouble wrestling with and reacting to what his son has been saying about his brief sojourn in heaven. And the conclusion is not some grand revelation or depiction of the "real" heaven but rather an informal sermon in which Todd (well played by Greg Kinnear) talks thru his uncertainties and tells his fellow congregants that "on Earth as it is in heaven" means that we should each value the little bit of heaven we share when we appreciate the people who love us.
Frankly, an avowed humanist couldn't have put it much better.
Still, there's the obvious fact that little Colton has been drenched in religion for almost his entire waking life, and that such total immersion surely accounts for everything he claims to have seen. And the Burpos had been having serious financial difficulties, a not-so-subtle motive for playing Colton's story for any financial benefit it might bring. Nor does the film stint from dramatizing those perfectly naturalistic explanations.
In short, if you were expecting a piece of pious propaganda, this isn't it. It's more like a nice, non-saccharine family drama with unusual subject matter, kind of along the lines of We Bought a Zoo. On my 9-point scale, it rates a 6.
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