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Examining faith during spring break

Examining what it means to have faith
Examining what it means to have faith
TriStar Pictures

Staten Island families, Christians, and those just curious about the hereafter will be swept away by the new film starring Greg Kinnear that argues that “Heaven Is For Real.” The book that came out in 2010 talked of the experiences of a four year-old boy who came back from a near death experience and talked about it. The book became a huge bestseller and has sparked controversy as well as curiosity – two things that make Hollywood interested in filming a nonfiction story like this. The new film is definitely going to have people talking at a time when so many teachers and school children are on spring break.

Added The New York Times in its review: “The wooing of religious moviegoers — a delicate operation, as the “Noah” backlash attests — has been ramping up lately, with major players like Ridley Scott and Ben Kingsley mining the Bible for box office gold. But if there’s such a thing as a safe bet in this genre, it’s “Heaven Is for Real,” a Christian sermon that even the most doctrinaire believer can applaud.” For more of this review visit

“Already successful as a book in 2010 (and a children’s book the next year, both runaway best sellers), the story of Colton Burpo, the almost-4-year-old who returned from a near-death experience claiming to have detoured through heaven, is a faith-based find,” added The Times. “Colton’s father, Todd, a Nebraska pastor wrote both books with the assistance of the ghostwriter Lynn Vincent.) As the caboose of this franchise, a movie about Colton’s celestial experiences was as likely as the big-tent inoffensiveness of its message,” adds the article.
“Working with hushed choirs, tasteful beams of light and an ethereal aesthetic, the director, Randall Wallace, and his cinematographer, Dean Semler, transform their Canadian locations into a verdant prairie poem,” added The Times. “This earthly paradise may feed the spirit, but it doesn’t fill the bellies of the pastor (Greg Kinnear) — who doubles as a volunteer firefighter, wrestling coach and carpet hauler — and his picture book family.”

“Preachy and pretty, “Heaven” is a classy-looking product with a vanilla flavor and a pastel palette. What friction there is occurs mainly among Todd’s friends and church board members (led by the reliable Margo Martindale and a subdued Thomas Haden Church), who worry that Todd’s public pronouncements will garner a snake-wrangling image for their quiet congregation,” according to the review.

“Cleverly circumventing any parental influence, the film allows Colton to deliver his visions in the first person, leaving doubt only in the reliability of everyone’s hearing,” according to The Times. “What remains could be proof of the Divine or simply the prelude to a tale of how one financially fragile man turned his son’s imaginings — and maybe some of his own — into a phenomenon. This film, at least, has made up its mind.” Staten Island families and teachers on spring break; this is one movie that offers a message of hope in life everlasting, a message that validates our faith.

Showtimes for Staten Island:

The film is now showing at Atrium Stadium Cinemas at 680 Arthur Kill Road, Staten Island
‎and UA All Staten Island Stadium 16 Theatre at 2474 Forest Avenue on Staten Island. Check your local listings for showtimes and theaters.