Back Rowe Reviews
Real Time Movie Reviews from the Back Row of a Theater

Heaven is For Real (PG)

Directed by: Randall Wallace
Starring: Greg Kinnear
April 2014

This review was originally tweeted in Real-time from the back row of a movie theater and appears @BackRoweReviews. Though efforts were made to tease rather than ruin this movie’s memorable lines and moments, some spoilers may exist in the following evaluation. The original tweets appear in black, while follow-up comments appear in red. For concerns over objectionable content, please first refer to one of the many parental movie guide websites. All ratings are based on a four star system. Happy reading!

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Hospital and pizza...well as long as it isn’t hospital pizza.

Lions and bears and unicorns, oh my! Strange sermon illustration.
Not sure I got the point here. Seems like a bit of a stretch. Plus, were unicorns ever mentioned in the Bible? I don’t recall David taking one of those down with his sling.

Be careful how you slide into third.

I’ve been to the Butterfly Pavilion...and I’ve held Rosie.
Twice, actually. I have the pictures to prove it.

Kinnear’s tantrum provides a crucial defense to his son’s incredible testimony.

Jesus has markers...not the color markers on the table though.

A second sister...some much needed proof for Colton’s mom.

Kinnear’s titular sermon is so stirring it leads to a hug-fest; not that uncommon in small town Nebraska.
Consider this homily a successful Hail Mary. I guess someone was listening up there…in heaven.

Final analysis: a “religious” film that challenges our notions of the afterlife with minimal sermonizing.

A decent cast, headlined by Kinnear and Thomas Hayden Church, but Connor Corum steals the show as Colton.
Correction: Thomas Haden Church. Guess I can expect to be sandblasted for that mistake.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 4 stars. A powerful message of hope. Hopefully it’s not just preaching to the choir.

One of the revealing aspects of this movie is how people’s reactions to the concept of heaven can be so radically different. Some accept its existence blindly and others reject it out of hand since, in their minds, it isn’t scientifically feasible. What fascinated me most about this movie is how church parishioners dealt with the version of heaven young Cole claims to have seen in a not so near death experience. Some are filled with hope by his story, others are threatened by it and still others just want it to blow over so that the media blitz will end and life can return to normal. The fact that it evokes such varied and extreme reactions indicates just how polarizing and inspiring a topic heaven can be, especially when broached in a “true story” film. Though the production values are hamstrung by insufficient financing, director Randall Wallace makes the most of the heartfelt story, based on the book by Todd Burpo, and capitalizes on the A list performers at his disposal, Kinnear, Church, Kelly Reilly (Flight) and Margo Martindale from TVs The Millers and The Americans. Just as convictions concerning the reality of heaven widely differ, opinions regarding the quality of this film will also vary. Some will view this film as overly sentimental, while others will regard it as heaven sent.