Heaven Is for Real (PG) I expected the worst from Randall Wallace’s Heaven Is for Real. I’ve seen enough treacly, whitewashed religious tracts masquerading as cinema in my days. I mean, this is a movie based on the “true story” of a young boy with the name of Colton Burpo (newcomer Connor Corum) claiming to have seen heaven during an appendectomy. You pretty much know what you’re going to get, from the cheesy, family-friendly humor to the noxious, swelling, saccharine score that sweats out of the speakers. Despite being awash in such expected gooeyness, imagine my shock to find — underneath it all — a surprisingly even-handed, theologically inquisitive little movie. Heaven Is for Real is, for the most part, really about father and pastor Todd Burpo (Greg Kinnear, in a solid, none too taxing performance) coming to grips with what he truly believes. As a man of faith, even he has trouble buying into this story that young Burpo visited Heaven, and not because of Colton’s more fantasticated claims (like Jesus riding around heaven on a horse), but because — even to him — heaven is a far-fetched idea. This makes for a film that’s more measured and less preachy than most Christian cinema. Unfortunately, it’s damned boring. In the end, there’s just nothing interesting about the Burpos. Not their money problems, not Todd breaking his leg playing softball, and certainly not Colton going to heaven, which we only sort of see with some bad green screen work. There’s never any doubt in a film called Heaven Is for Real what side of the argument Pastor Burpo’s going to fall on. I’m obviously less gullible than Todd, who apparently buys Colton’s claims that equestrian Jesus — complete with feathered hair — looks like a Bee Gee, so all this excitement they’re suddenly experiencing just feels goofy and makes the characters look even sillier.
Director: Randall Wallace
Writer: Todd Burpo
Cast: Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly and Connor Corum