We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
I am conflicted about "Heaven is for Real," which proves this is a better movie than you might expect. It has some good performances, a sense of humor and an adorable little boy as its lead. It has actors you’ll recognize, like Oscar nominees Greg Kinnear and Thomas Haden Church. The always-welcome Margo Martindale has a key supporting role too. Outside of some mild gore, it has nothing that might jolt or offend kids or sensitive viewers.
But "Heaven is for Real" also has an agenda, which is handily spelled out in its declarative sentence of a title. It is the latest, and thus far best, of the current flood of faith-based films. Hollywood is finally warming up to a market Tyler Perry has been servicing for a decade. Contrary to popular belief, Perry’s films are attended by churchgoers of every skin color. The Polish church on my block sends me cards (I guess Jesus gave them my address) inviting me to group screenings of the latest Madea movie AND "Son of God."
Based on a bestselling book by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent, "Heaven is for Real" tells the story of how Burpo’s 4-year old son, Colton (Connor Corum) visited Heaven and lived to tell of its pleasures. Colton didn’t actually die; he was just under some really good anesthesia during an appendectomy. Colton returns home armed with knowledge he had never been privy to before. He knows things about his family that nobody has told him. When pressed by Todd (Greg Kinnear), Colton insists that Jesus informed him on these matters.
I have no problem believing the plot line of this movie; if I can believe Captain America is darting across the sky with the star of "She Hate Me," I can believe a little boy went to Heaven and met the Lord. In fact, as someone who has died twice and didn’t get 1/1000th as good an out-of-body experience this kid got, I was intrigued by "Heaven is for Real."