Heaven Is for Real

  • Review Date: April 16, 2014
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Extremely earnest drama explores issues of family and faith.
  • 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.


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
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.

Parents say

Kids say

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

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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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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Teen, 13 years old Written byIsaac T January 30, 2015

Really good movie.

This movie centers on a kid who died, was resurrected, and told his parents what he'd seen in the spirit world. In the end, his death was more emotional than violent. The experience was very heartwarming for me and probably for your children as well. I'd say it's on for kindergarteners and iffy for toddlers.
What other families should know
Great messages
Kid, 12 years old January 24, 2015

Heaven is For Real

I loved this movie. I'm a strong Christian and it teached me things I believe Christians should know. It's cute. It's clean. No language. No reason to say no. It's for 9 year olds, because of the maturity of the film. There are adult sequences like in Heaven Colton finding out he had a second sister. Love Ya Jesus!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Written byAnonymous December 11, 2014

Fantastic movie about Heaven is a great pick for familes

This life changing movie has a hospital sequence (not that graphic) and a woman talks about how her son died in the war and "damn" is heard in a song and "hell" is also heard and Todd is called an "anvil" but all in all this movie changed my life and it will change yours too!
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much swearing


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