Heaven Is for Real Movie Poster Image

Heaven Is for Real



Extremely earnest drama explores issues of family and faith.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: April 16, 2014
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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.


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.


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.


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


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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:April 16, 2014
DVD release date:July 22, 2014
Cast:Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Thomas Haden Church
Director:Randall Wallace
Studio:Sony Pictures
Topics:Brothers and sisters, Friendship
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:thematic material including some medical situations

This review of Heaven Is for Real was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 12 years old April 20, 2014


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 Colton and Cassie where in the bathroom throwing up.I also plugged them when Todd was passing thses kidney stones. Even though I'm 12 years old, I don't think I was ready to see this movie....... I also learned that I am very sensitive to violent scenes.
What other families should know
Great messages
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 don't go to these movies, despite the fact that I'm pretty close to agnostic. I can honestly say that out of the 4 god movies that I have seen recently, I could safely say that it is one of the top two. The story is quite depressing at times, and the themes are not really for kids. I guess taking a kid to a movie like this is understandable, if only for the morals, but don't be surprised if your kid gets upset or maybe even disturbed at some of the adult themes in it (death, injury, mourning, and doubt). Speaking of morals, the morals are great. Everybody's belief on their religion is slightly different but basically the same, but the movie shows that when a person has experienced something that's description attempts to alter the current system of popular belief, despite how happy and simple the new concept suggests it to be, it causes a lot of confusion and doubt about what is real and what's not based on past and present. If you want to take your kids to the movie to see that, go ahead, but heed my warning that it might disturb some younger viewers. Also, I'm actually not going to select any of the "Too Much Violence" or "Too Much Sex" icons to represent my review's overall point, as it really does;t have that stuff. It's just pretty sad and has some plot points that you may think your child shouldn't really be exposed to yet.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byhiphoph May 9, 2014

Heaven is for Real

Heaven is for Real had some more mature topics, even as it was advertised to be a family movie. The child's father fractures his leg (you can hear a snapping sound), and later screams in pain while passing kidney stones. That father is both a pastor and a firefighter. We see him bursting into a burning building, along with seeing him praying for a dying man. A woman mourns over the death of her son (which occurred before the time frame of the film). The main couple had a miscarriage in the past. A young boy almost does during surgery, and a young girl punches two kids. As for sexual scenes, a married couple kiss and the woman whispers something suggestive to her husband. This film was very good. The little boy was adorable and did a great job acting for one so young. The film shows how everyone can struggle with faith. Even people on the church board, and the pastor himself doubts that the boy went to heaven, even as they preach about it. It has a powerful message.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence


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