Heaven is for Real (2014 PG) recounts the story of a 4-year-old boy, Colton (Connor Corum), who nearly dies during an emergency appendectomy, then surprises his family over the next months with comments about seeing heaven. His father, Todd (Greg Kinnear), is a rural pastor who struggles with what to believe about the heaven his son is talking about. His mother, Sonja (Kelly Reilly), believes Colton is just repeating what he’s heard in church and in Bible stories all his life. Colton’s big sister, Cassie (Lane Styles), doesn’t like when classmates make fun of Colton’s heaven stories.
The book came out in 2010 and reads like a father’s musing over his son’s amazing experience.
When we watch a faith-based movie like this, we have to separate our opinions into two categories.
1. Is Heaven for Real?
Colton says in heaven, “Nobody is old and nobody wears glasses.” Colton says he spoke with Jesus, and He was nice. You can either believe in heaven, believe that Colton saw heaven, or not believe in heaven at all. Because of my Christian faith, I believe in heaven. To me, it doesn’t matter what Colton saw in heaven. It doesn’t matter if there are streets of gold or what age my body in heaven will be. I simply believe that heaven will be a wonderful place. Even if you don’t believe in heaven, you can answer the second question.
2. Is the movie any good?
The movie is really about a family in crisis and how they struggle and how they support each other. There are money issues. Health issues. The church threatens to fire Pastor Todd because of his heaven talk.
Now, the big beautiful farmhouse they live in does not look like something that a struggling firefighter/garage installer/pastor would live in; there should be some peeling paint or battered equipment laying around. And a few of the supporting cast are not great actors, so the scenes with them, in which we should see how Todd is a friendly pillar of the community, are forced.
But the key actors are spot-on! You feel the struggle Sonja has to support her husband in is conflict. You can feel the financial pinch the family is in, and know that there is no way out. Todd is under pressure to financially support his family, guide his church, show love to his kids and wife, and keep his side businesses afloat. All while wrestling with the things that little Colton has told him. Cassie doesn’t get much screen time, but when she does she acts seamlessly. And little Colton is adorable.