Entertainment

Reel Reviews: 'Heaven is for Real' will make you think

Rev. Burpo (Greg Kinnear) shows a picture of his grandfather to his son Colton (Connor Corum), who claims to have met the man in Heaven. - TriStar Pictures (Sony)
Rev. Burpo (Greg Kinnear) shows a picture of his grandfather to his son Colton (Connor Corum), who claims to have met the man in Heaven.
— image credit: TriStar Pictures (Sony)

Heaven is for Real is based on the bestselling book of the same name.

It is the true story of  Rev. Todd Burpo who has his faith tested like never before, when his four year old gets ill, has a near death experience and upon healing, begins telling stories about his experiences in Heaven.

Young Colton describes meeting Jesus, relatives that have passed away, and even gains knowledge that he seemingly shouldn’t know, thus providing enough proof for his stories to be considered true.

We say, “It’s a bit cloudy.”

HOWE: I am not a religious person but found the story interesting, just like some of the tales in the Bible or stories of alien abductions. If the story is strong enough it can be about any subject matter that holds my attention, that can entertain me or forces me to ask questions after watching it.

Heaven is for Real does that job, and does it very well. Similar to the Five People You Meet in Heaven, this isn’t a blockbuster with special effects or a huge budget  movie. It is a great film with some good acting that will make you think. If you’re not bothered about watching the webslinger or fed up with blue parrots talking, I would recommend this, faith or no faith.

TAYLOR: I think I disagree. Religious folks are going to relate to this film more than non-religious folks. It’s not that faith is a prerequisite to enjoying the story, but rather this film is an examination of the boundaries of faith. As such, audiences can look at the events depicted in the film as either a religious or purely psychological experience and perhaps the two aren’t mutually exclusive. However, the faithless are less likely to experience the joy of the story once it is realized as a tale of environment and imagination, rather than a tale of wonder. Essentially, Heaven is for Real is not about a little boy who goes to Heaven, but rather about the people who have to organize their personal judgement of Colton’s tale. The characters in the film, like the audience, must examine the more dichotomous facets of faith, summed up well by Rev. Burpo’s wife in reference to her husband’s congregation: “Half of them want to stop feeling and start thinking, the other half want to do the opposite.”

The film itself is quite objective. It leaves it up to you to decide what you believe and I like that. Having said that, Colton’s story could have been a lot more interesting if he was not the son of a reverend. No one is surprised when the son of a psychic turns out to also be psychic. No one minds if the film about an alien abduction claims to be based on a true story. I’m not saying I don’t believe. I want to believe, but the film provides no real reason to believe. Still, let’s everyone remember where Hollywood movies come from and why.

HOWE: But I guess the real mystery to the movie is David Copperfield’s appearance.

– Taylor gives Heaven is for Real 2 out of body experiences out of 5.

– Howe gives it 3 carpets out of 5.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C. Their column runs in The Morning Star every Friday and Sunday

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