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.

Latest News

in Local, Surrounding Counties

Fluvanna Sheriff Warns About New Scam

Updated
Fluvanna County Sherrifs Badge

The Fluvanna County Sheriff's Office is warning consumers about a new scam that involves text messages.

in Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, Local, Surrounding Counties, UVA

Two Jailed In Weekend Incident

Updated
Damaged Dark Chevy 80215 (sent to us)

Two 18-year-old men are behind bars following incidents in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

in Local, Surrounding Counties

Verizon Workers See Contract Expire

Updated
Verizon Logo

Thousands of Verizon workers remain on the job without a new contract.

in Local, Surrounding Counties, Virginia Assembly

ACLU Helps Man To Sue Petersburg

Petersburg Seal 72309

The ACLU is going to bat for a man who has sued the City of Petersburg.

in Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, Election, Local, Surrounding Counties, UVA

Navy Welcomes Sub Named For Warner

Digital Camera

The U.S. Navy's newest submarine is named for Virginian John Warner.