"Heaven Is for Real" Review- Craig's First Take


It’s never a good sign when your movie title is a definitive, especially if you really can’t prove that definitive at all. Heaven may be for real, but the movie “Heaven Is for Real” is a la la land of crap, ready to accept everything as fact and consider nothing except how much money it could make off book and movie ticket sales.

Directed by Randall Wallace (who used to write movies like “Braveheart”) and based off a book pastor Todd Burpo wrote (along with Lynn Vincent) about his son 4 year old son Colton, the film casts Todd (Greg Kinnear) as an all-around good guy stretching himself thin during tough economic times. He’s already coming close to debt and this is before Colton has to be hospitalized with an ever-worsening appendicitis that could kill him. Colton never did actually die but there was an out-of-body experience, where he claims he saw things while floating on the ceiling that actually did happen.

From there I became worried, more so for Todd’s sake. He seems ready to take anything his 4 year old son says at face value and then go off on a tangent with it- taking very routine (hallucinatory?) fantasies I would assume many people have about heaven (if you had clouds, angels, singing choirs, holding hands with Jesus in your heaven pool, you win) and treating them as if they’re mind-blowing evidence that his son actually visited. He struggles with belief but to him that’s no reason to not start publically announcing “heaven trip” to everyone in his small Nebraska town anyway.

At no time does he ever pull back to consider this may be a ploy by a four year old to get some attention or consider what the magnitude of making such an announcement might have on his family or the people in the town. That he also never questions Colton’s claim that the soul and physical body look the same is another problem, especially since the Bible he preaches from even says there is a distinction. Todd may have doubts, but I have no doubt that what he wanted was to make something out of nothing here.

Regardless, even as drama “Heaven Is for Real” is pretty listless stuff, where we learn that it’s “cool” to jaw a bully if he’s making fun of you and that people’s tolerance for how controlling they want their church to be to end at talking about heaven. Debate never really occurs here, even the ending wants you to leave on a pleasant, happy feeling instead of seriously considering anything of merit. I guess that will work for some people but the movie gets another thing wrong too. It says people will refuse to believe out of fear, but there is also something to be said for just being bland, uninspired, and lacking in serious discussion too.