Just read, an article interesting for the LOE Research I do here:
His Résumé Before the Age of 4: ‘I Saw Jesus on a Horse’
‘Heaven Is for Real’ Stars Greg Kinnear
The wooing of religious moviegoers — a delicate operation, as the “Noah” backlash attests — has been ramping up lately, with major players like Ridley Scott and Ben Kingsley mining the Bible for box office gold. But if there’s such a thing as a safe bet in this genre, it’s “Heaven Is for Real,” a Christian sermon that even the most doctrinaire believer can applaud.
Already successful as a book in 2010 (and a children’s book the next year, both runaway best sellers), the story of Colton Burpo, the almost-4-year-old who returned from a near-death experience claiming to have detoured through heaven, is a faith-based find. (Colton’s father, Todd, a Nebraska pastor wrote both books with the assistance of the ghostwriter Lynn Vincent.) As the caboose of this franchise, a movie about Colton’s celestial experiences was as likely as the big-tent inoffensiveness of its message.
Working with hushed choirs, tasteful beams of light and an ethereal aesthetic, the director, Randall Wallace, and his cinematographer, Dean Semler, transform their Canadian locations into a verdant prairie poem. This earthly paradise may feed the spirit, but it doesn’t fill the bellies of the pastor (Greg Kinnear) — who doubles as a volunteer firefighter, wrestling coach and carpet hauler — and his picture book family.
A softball injury and kidney stones help neither his bank balance nor his faith, but luckily both are eventually salvaged when Colton (Connor Corum) surfaces from a ruptured appendix, insisting that he saw seraphim and a horse-riding Jesus.
Preachy and pretty, “Heaven” is a classy-looking product with a vanilla flavor and a pastel palette. What friction there is occurs mainly among Todd’s friends and church board members (led by the reliable Margo Martindale and a subdued Thomas Haden Church), who worry that Todd’s public pronouncements will garner a snake-wrangling image for their quiet congregation.
Unaddressed are the theological implications of Colton’s description of a Jesus with blue-green eyes — and, according to a painting by a Lithuanian-American girl seen in the film, who makes claims similar to Colton’s, lovely blond highlights.
Cleverly circumventing any parental influence, the film allows Colton to deliver his visions in the first person, leaving doubt only in the reliability of everyone’s hearing. What remains could be proof of the Divine or simply the prelude to a tale of how one financially fragile man turned his son’s imaginings — and maybe some of his own — into a phenomenon. This film, at least, has made up its mind.
“Heaven Is for Real” is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested). It presents heaven as a place where winged entities float in the sky, old people become young adults, and the unborn grow into happy children.
Heaven Is for Real
Opens on Wednesday.
Directed by Randall Wallace; written by Mr. Wallace and Christopher Parker, based on the book by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent; director of photography, Dean Semler; edited by John Wright; music by Nick Glennie-Smith; production design by Arv Greywal; costumes by Michael T. Boyd; produced by Joe Roth and T. D. Jakes; released by TriStar Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes.
WITH: Greg Kinnear (Todd Burpo), Kelly Reilly (Sonja Burpo), Margo Martindale (Nancy Rawling), Jacob Vargas (Michael), Connor Corum (Colton Burpo) and Thomas Haden Church (Jay Wilkins).