Heaven Is for Real

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Heaven Is for Real Movie Poster Image
Extremely earnest drama explores issues of family and faith.
  • PG
  • 2014
  • 100 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 18 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The power of faith is a central theme of the film, which encourages viewers to consider their own beliefs. It also provides a positive depiction of a happily married couple who aren't bored or unhappy with their marriage.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Todd is an engaging orator, a kind pastor, and a loving husband and father. Colton is matter-of-fact about his experiences and doesn't say anything to try to change anyone's mind; he's sure of himself. The Burpos have a strong and faithful marriage that's portrayed as affectionate and passionate, even though they don't always agree.

Violence

A grown man falls and suffers a painful fracture during a softball game; he later has debilitating kidney stones that cause him to collapse in public and scream in pain. A boy has a near-fatal case of appendicitis. A girl punches two boys who make fun of her brother.

Sex

Several kisses and embraces between a married couple. The wife whispers something (presumably suggestive) in her husband's ear about what she'll do if he agrees to go on an impromptu vacation.

Language

A couple of uses of "Lord" and "God" as exclamatory phrases.

Consumerism

Products and brands visible or featured include Adidas, Ford, Spider-Man, Peg Perego, Coca-Cola, Palmolive, Florida's Natural orange juice, Google, and Sony Vaio laptop.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Heaven Is for Real is a faith-based family drama inspired by Nebraska pastor Todd Burpo's best-selling memoir about his son Colton's alleged experiences in heaven when he was 4 years old. The movie, like the book, proposes that, during surgery, young Colton (who never died on the operating table) somehow visited heaven, proving that the afterlife exists. While there's not much questionable content in the movie overall, a few scenes show characters in pain or injured, and there's one scene in which the Burpos' school-aged daughter punches two boys making fun of her brother. There's also a fair bit of kissing and marital affection (though certainly nothing that could be considered graphic), as well as one suggestive (but unheard) comment. Young kids may not understand some of the movie's mature issues, and some families may feel more comfortable with the religious subject matter than others.

User Reviews

Adult Written byMovie Review Maven June 1, 2014

Family friendly

Movie Title: Heaven Is for Real PG, 1 hour 40 minutes Grade: B In a Nutshell: This is a simple movie with a simple message, and yet it is very powerful.... Continue reading
Adult Written byBands123 May 18, 2014
Kid, 12 years old April 20, 2014

Scary.......

I was in the movie theater plugging my ears as Colton's father collapsed due to kidney stones and when he fractured his foot in a softball game AND when Co... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byManOfMidNights April 25, 2014

Not a bad movie.

I'm one of those people who gets dragged into movie theaters for not only every movie, but especially every god movie. My parents call me an atheist if I d... Continue reading

What's the story?

In HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, Todd Burpo (Greg Kinnear) is Imperial, Nebraska's, jack of all trades: He's head pastor at an evangelical church, a volunteer for the fire department, a wrestling coach at the high school, and the owner of a garage door company. He and his wife, Sonja (Kelly Reilly), are having financial problems, so after two back-to-back injuries (a leg fracture and kidney stones) force Todd into taking a sabbatical, the couple takes their two adorable tow-headed children on a mini vacation. Both kids get sick, and Colton (Connor Corum), their 4-year-old son, ends up with acute appendicitis, requiring emergency surgery. After Colton recuperates, he tells his parents that, during the operation, he visited heaven. At first, his parents think the stories are part of Colton's imagination, but as he begins to recall meeting dead relatives he never met and specific details about Jesus and angels, the Burpos believe. But will anyone else?

Is it any good?

Based on Todd Burpo's 2010 memoir of the same name, Heaven Is for Real is an expressly Christian film made with established actors, and the performances are notably thoughtful. Kinnear plays Todd Burpo as a man of God who's also a concerned citizen and even an occasional doubting Thomas. He doesn't blindly accept what Colton says about heaven (at first), and he struggles with reconciling Colton's revelations with his own faith and pastoral responsibilities (can he really, as the head of a congregation, tell everyone that his kid actually went to heaven and hung out with Jesus?).

The other adult actors are also quite genuine in their roles, particularly Reilly as Todd's supportive wife and character actress extraordinaire Margo Martindale as a church trustee who's initially skeptical about Todd's claims about Colton's experiences. Colton himself is almost distractingly cute, and Corum manages to be sweetly straightforward about the movie's spiritual material. Your overall feelings about Heaven Is for Real's messages will likely depend on whether you believe Burpo's story. But as a movie, it's a well-acted biographical tale of a family changed forever by their son's declarations about what's waiting in the hereafter.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can discuss who you think Heaven Is for Real is intended to appeal to. Do you think it's for people who already profess a faith, or will it appeal to others equally?

  • How would you describe the movie's point of view about faith?

  • The movie is based on a memoir. Do you believe that Connor might have actually visited heaven? Why or why not? Does it matter whether you believe?

Movie details

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