I was honored to be sent a "screener" version of the upcoming film, "Heaven Is For Real." I have to admit, I had not read the book, so I was coming from a completely open-minded position. I was thoroughly impressed.
This is, by far, one of the most entertaining, moving, and professional "Christian" movies I have ever seen. Greg Kinnear (Oscar nominated actor) turns in a very emotional performance as Todd Burpo, a father/pastor who is faced with whether or not to believe his son's account of his "visit to Heaven." The cast is solid, the acting is stellar, and the cinematography is of the highest level I have seen in a faith-based movie.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story (from Wikipedia):
"Heaven Is for Real is the true story of a four-year-old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who says he experienced Heaven during emergency surgery. He talked about looking down to see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn’t know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear. In Heaven, Colton met his miscarried sister whom no one ever had told him about and his great-grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born. He shared impossible-to-know details about each. Colton went on to describe the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how “reaaally big” God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit “shoots down power” from heaven to help us. Told by Colton’s father often in Colton’s own words, but there are people who will not believe Colton or his family, the disarmingly simple message is that heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and to be ready … there is a coming last battle."
I think this movie (which releases nationally on Easter, April 16th) is definitely one the entire family can and should attend together. Not only is it completely clean (no language or offensive situations), but it will open up some very important conversations with your kids. As they learn of four-year-old Colton's experience in Heaven and the revelations he shares with his parents, children may begin to ask the following questions...
These are important questions that parents and Kids Ministry Leaders should be ready to answer.
One of the best facets of the movie is the journey of Todd Burpo - and whether or not he will believe his son's claims, and then whether or not he will declare that belief to the world. This movie very accurately portrays the type of struggle I imagine Todd and his family indeed experienced.
What I am most thankful for: this is a "secular" movie production - and it portrays a Christian family in a very strong light. There were numerous opportunities to soften the story and make it easier for the non-Christian community to swallow - and they did not do it. I am certainly thankful for "Courageous" and "Facing The Giants", but those movies were produced and directed by and for Christians. "Heaven Is For Real" was directed by Oscar-nominated Randall Wallace and is being released by Tri-Star Pictures (a division of Sony Pictures). I am excited to see what kind of success the movie brings. I highly recommend it.