Despite the mid-week release, or perhaps because of it being Easter Week, hundreds flooded to the theaters Wed., April 16 to see the long awaited release of the movie, "Heaven is for Real."
This movie based on the best selling book of the same name portrays the life of Reverend Todd Burpo, excellently portrayed by Greg Kinnear, and his family who live in the rural township in Imperial, Nebraska. The pastor has the life of most reverends called by God to preach, which is usually difficult with inadequate income regardless of working five different jobs and still representing the spiritual leader of the community.
The breaking point comes when his only son, Colton, portrayed by Connor Corum, nearly dies because of an appendix burst. He then questions God and falters in his faith of the Lord Jesus. However, it is not long before his four-year old son begins to divulge revelations that he had with Jesus and in heaven while on the operating table.
The pastor, whose faith is still teetering on the brink, cannot quite believe his son, yet, strangely enough, one by one the disclosures prove phenomenally accurate in detail. He is also questioned repeatedly if his son had a "near death experience" which was not the case, yet, the boy still visited heaven.
Meanwhile, amidst the astounding particulars being revealed, life continues for Pastor Burpo and his family including mounting hospital bills, issues at school for their daughter, and the church board threatening dismissal. Contention arises between the parents because of Burpo's obsession with Colton's visions and his wife, portrayed by Kelly Reilly, and her fear of their earthly financial problems.
Soon it becomes apparent that a major dissenter on the church board, who has pushed for his dismissal, is really facing personal problems in her own faith and wants to punish Burpo for his son's visions.
The movie ends with the final revelation from Colton convincing his mother of his veracity and truthfulness and firming his father's belief that he really did visit heaven and heaven is for real. The revelation is regarding his unknown sister who had died in a miscarriage and whom he met while in heaven.
Burpo makes a final declaration before his congregation and news media that yes, his son did visit heaven and perhaps if we all knew that heaven is for real, we would live differently here on earth.
The film, endorsed on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) this morning by the Burpo family, is considered very accurate to the book and to Colton Burpo's visions. Director Randall Wallace wisely used very little effects in the movie and only enough to help Colton's story along. Jesus face was shadowed out and left prudently to the imagination of the viewer (although the actor who portrayed Him is, of course, listed in the credits). In addition, the cast depicted the family as a real family and not holier-than-thou which has been done in past movies of Christian believers.
One element seems to be left out of the movie and that is if heaven is for real, then hell is for real also. Furthermore, according to the Christian faith, not everyone will be going to heaven; only those who accept Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead.
Nevertheless, the movie is a real feel-good film and leaves the viewer with a peaceful sentiment for quite awhile afterward. There is a touch of surprise at the end that was unexpected and very memorable.
Overall, it was a very good film that treated Christianity very well without aspirations toward any other faith, and gave a significant final statement for all people to believe: Heave is for Real.
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