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"Heaven Is For Real" Reviewed

heaven up here

heaven up here

Based on a true story, Pastor Todd Burpo (I bet his Sunday School class love that last name) son four year old Colton has a near death experience when his appendix bursts and goes for a visit to heaven, where he sits on Jesus knee, meets his sister who was miscarried by his Mom and pals around with his Great Grandfather, before coming back to tell the world. Todd has a hard time believing this till finally he is convinced and shares it with his congregation and then writes a best selling book about it and finally this movie.

The movie has a very sweet vibe to it, Greg Kinnear channels his inner Henry Fonda and has a deep soulful feel to his performance as he strangles on his self doubt and drags his beautiful wife (Kelly Reilly) and family with him into bankruptcy and beyond.

The problem here isn’t faith, either you believe in a personal Jesus and life after death or you don’t, if you do than this will have a truthful ring to it and if you don’t it won’t and it is presented in an open ended daydream-y America of the heart that could be any time: it certainly doesn’t feel like the 21st Century. The problem is it is all a little too special, a little too whitebread, and a little too socially convenient. Having a miscarried baby in heaven is saying at least one thing about Christianity, isn’t it?

But why not buy into daydreams. While making women feel guilty about abortions (subtext, folks) is one thing, the rest of the things here are a dream of a life everlasting, of a, as the picture quotes, “on earth as it is in heaven” and really, if you are gonna play “I don’t believe it”, why go to movies at all.

The true secret to life is atheists can ONLY be wrong. If they’re right they will never know it. And The opposite is true of believers. The world Burpo lives in may have not too much to do with the world you and I exist in, but it is a world of its own enchantment, a Middle America of Church, home, loving parents, scripture: a bedrock faith and a Personal Jesus. A God who listen to us. Does it matter, again except for making women feel guilty, whether it is real or not?

Kinnear gives a first rate performance, he is likable and yet real, and Reilly is a dream wife: the early set up scenes are just lovely. Nothing like anything I’ve ever known but hey…

Do I believe Todd went to heaven? Yes I do. I mean, I don’t know what belief is, but I think on the most basic Jungian shared reality sense, he went to heaven. The Christian Randall Wallace (he also made Secretariat) makes a case for a world of goodness and hope and I will buy in as far as I can. It isn’t my life, and it isn’t a life I would particularly want, but it has the charm of a daydream of life and life everlasting.

Grade: B




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