News

REVIEW: Cast keeps ‘Heaven Is for Real’ grounded

REVIEW: Cast keeps ‘Heaven Is for Real’ grounded

Photo: YouTube

Genre: Drama | Run Time: 100 min | Rated: PG
Director: Randall Wallace | Starring: Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Connor Corum

By: George Wolf

Whatever message a movie may have, subtlety in sending it is rarely a bad thing.

Heaven Is for Real turns out to be more subtle than the title would suggest, with a solid group of actors to help keep it grounded when it’s in danger of too much, pardon the expression, preaching to the choir.

Based on the true story described in the best-selling book, the film introduces us to Colton Burpo, a four year old Nebraska boy who says he went to heaven.

Colton’s father Todd (Greg Kinnear) is the local pastor, with a loving wife (Kelly Reilly) and a seemingly all-around satisfying life. His peace is shattered, though, when Colton suffers a ruptured appendix and is rushed into emergency surgery where his life hangs in the balance.

He recovers, and though he was never clinically dead, Colton begins telling mom and dad that he left his body in the operating room and went to Heaven. There, he not only met Jesus, but was introduced to family members from the other side, at least one of whom his parents never told him about.

Would you believe a four old year telling that story? Well, it helps when this one is played by the impossibly composed Connor Corum. In his debut, Corum is not only cute beyond words, but his delivery of every line is totally believable. I don’t know where they found this kid, but he’s a keeper.

Do things get preachy? Of course, Kinnear plays a preacher, after all, and there’s no mistaking the abundance of “traditional” traits in Reilly’s stay-at-home helpmate character. But, the film also addresses the negative reaction to the child’s claim, starting with leaders of Burpo’s own church.

Veteran actors Margo Martindale and Thomas Haden Church move these characters beyond the one-note rubes they could have easily become. Less successful is a half-hearted attempt to confront scientific objections, as Burpo’s visit to a psychologist is reduced to little more than a courtesy call to the religion/science debate.

The very nature of its story ensures that Heaven Is for Real will be both dismissed and celebrated, sight unseen. Regardless, the important question is, how well does it tell that story?

Despite weak moments in the script, there’s enough heart and earnestness here to make it accessible, no matter who you believe.

Verdict 3 Stars

Read more movie reviews at MaddWolf.com.

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

Gary Busey, Tamar Braxton round out new ‘DWTS’ cast

17-overlay3

The 21st season of "Dancing With The Stars" promises to be a wild ride.

in Entertainment, Sports

Was ‘Concussion’ altered to avoid angering the NFL?

10-overlay1

Hacked Sony emails appear to show that the m arketing plans for the movie were positioned to focus on the story of a whistle-blower, rather than a condemnation of the sport.

in Music

Keith Richards is ready to record

keithrichards

The legendary guitarist is trying to get his bandmates on board as soon as possible.

in Entertainment

‘Game of Thrones’ breaks world record

14-overlay

The second episode of the fifth season of the HBO fantasy show was broadcast simultaneously in 173 countries.

in Music

Rihanna to mark 10 years in the music business

17-overlay2

At the launch of her new fragrance, Ri Ri, in New York, the "Umbrella" hitmaker talked about her new album and her plans to celebrate a decade in the industry.