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Heaven is for Real
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material including some medical situations
Release Date:
April 16, 2014

 

Philomena
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual references
Release Date:
November 22, 2013

Under the Skin
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for graphic nudity, sexual content, some violence and language
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

 

The Nut Job
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Release Date:
January 17, 2014

Rio 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

 

Grudge Match
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, sexual content and language
Release Date:
December 25, 2013

Heaven is for Real

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for thematic material including some medical situations
Movie Release Date:April 16, 2014

heavenisforrealA movie like “Heaven is for Real” requires two different reviews, one for believers/fans of the 1.5 million-volume best-selling book, one for those who are unfamiliar with the book and whose views about faith and heaven and proof may differ from the evangelical beliefs of the Wesleyan pastor who wrote the book about his son.  The first group will find what they are looking for.  Anyone else is unlikely to feel enlightened or inspired.

Nebraska clergyman Todd Burpo co-wrote Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, the story of his not-yet-four-year-old son Colton, who told his parents about a visit to heaven when he “lifted up” during abdominal surgery.  On that visit, he said, he sat on Jesus’ lap and spoke to two family members.  He described the bright colors of heaven and Jesus’ horse.

Fans of the book and those who share Colton’s ideas about heaven will find the movie skillfully made by co-writer/director Randall Wallace (“Secretariat,” “Braveheart”) and very true to the story that Burpo tells.  Greg Kinnear is likeable as always as a father coping with the stress of many different commitments and pressures.  He has a devoted wife, Sonja (Kelly Reilly of “Flight”) and two darling children.  But his garage door business is suffering in the depressed economy.  He is also a volunteer fireman and a high school coach as well as pastor of the Crossroads Wesleyan Church.  He has had some injuries and health problems.

And then what they think is stomach flu turns out to be Colton’s burst appendix and he is rushed to the operating room.  While Sonja calls church members to ask for their prayers, Todd goes to the hospital’s chapel and cries out to God over the unfairness of putting his little boy at risk.

Colton (Connor Corum, a cute kid with a nice natural presence but no actor) recovers.  After he is home, he matter-0f-factly begins to tell his parents about his experiences in heaven.  At first, they are dismissive, but then Todd and, later Sonja are convinced, based on details he shares about people and events he could not have known.  Todd allows a reporter to write about Colton.  Members of the church are concerned, but they, too, become convinced.

Those who are already believers, especially fans of the book who want to see the story on screen, are likely to be very satisfied with this well-produced and sincere portrayal of the Burpo’s story, and it is for them that the movie gets a B grade.  Those from other faith traditions, seekers, and skeptics are unlikely to be convinced, however.  For many people, the “proof” from Colton’s stories is easily explained away or the vision he describes is substantially different from their understanding of God and the afterlife.  The one consistent reaction from viewers is that both believers in this specific idea and those who are not will both find their views re-affirmed by this movie.

Parents should know that this movie includes a seriously ill child and discussions of miscarriage and loss.  There is some marital sexual teasing.

Family discussion:  Ask family members for their ideas of what heaven is like and research different faith traditions and their views of heaven.

If you like this, try: the book by Todd Burpo and Diane Keaton’s documentary Heaven

Heaven is for Real: The Real Story

posted by Nell Minow

“Heaven is for Real” opens tomorrow, with Greg Kinnear as Todd Burpo, a Nebraska pastor whose four-year-old son says that he visited heaven during surgery for a ruptured appendix.  It is based on a best-selling book Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, by Burpo and Lynn Vincent (co-author of Sarah Palin’s book, Going Rogue).  Burpo says that his son, Colton

talked about looking down to see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn’t know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.

In heaven, Colton met his miscarried sister whom no one ever had told him about and his great-grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born. He shared impossible-to-know details about each. Colton went on to describe the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how “reaaally big” God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit “shoots down power” from heaven to help us.

The movie follows the essential elements of the book pretty closely.  The Burpos dismiss Colton’s description of heaven at first.  But when he describes where they were during the operation, identifies the great-grandfather who died before he was born and the sister his mother miscarried as people he met and spoke to, they are persuaded that he saw something real.

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Movie Critic Ann Hornaday Comes Out as…a Christian

posted by Nell Minow

Washington Post movie critic Ann Hornaday wrote a brave and very moving essay about being a writer sustained by Christian faith and how that affects the way she approaches all films and especially those with religious themes.

As a critic, my first obligation is to assess each of these films not as theology (an exercise for which I’m supremely unqualified), but as a piece of commercial entertainment, whether the form it takes is a mass-market spectacle or a more niche-oriented product that preaches to the choir. After praying, I always ask myself three questions about any movie I’m writing about: What was the artist trying to achieve? Did he or she achieve it? And was it worth achieving? The beauty of that framework is that it allows me to set pure subjectivity aside, the better to judge every film on its merits; the answers get a little dicier, however, when I’m asked to analyze an explicitly Christian film. At that point, my beliefs inevitably come into play, whether I interpret the Old Testament as a divinely inspired but not necessarily literal text in “Noah,” or whether I feel that the starchy, simplistic approach of “Son of God” failed to capture the most subtle and powerful elements of the Gospel of John.

The best thing about the essay is the way her faith shines through the integrity of her approach to her work and her church.

 

Trailer: Gone Girl with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike

posted by Nell Minow

Take a look at the very creepy trailer from director David Fincher for the upcoming “Gone Girl” based on the best-seller by Gillian Flynn.

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Previous Posts

Heaven is for Real
A movie like "Heaven is for Real" requires two different reviews, one for believers/fans of the 1.5 million-volume best-selling book, one for those who are unfamiliar with the book and whose views about faith and heaven and proof may differ from the evangelical beliefs of the Wesleyan pastor who wro

posted 6:00:04pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Heaven is for Real: The Real Story
"Heaven is for Real" opens tomorrow, with Greg Kinnear as Todd Burpo, a Nebraska pastor whose four-year-old son says that he visited heaven during surgery for a ruptured appendix.  It is based on a best-selling book Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back,

posted 3:59:56pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Movie Critic Ann Hornaday Comes Out as...a Christian
Washington Post movie critic Ann Hornaday wrote a brave and very moving essay about being a writer sustained by Christian faith and how that affects the way she approaches all films and especially those with religious themes. As a critic, my first obligation is to assess each of these films not as

posted 3:59:22pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer: Gone Girl with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike
Take a look at the very creepy trailer from director David Fincher for the upcoming "Gone Girl" based on the best-seller by Gillian Flynn. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esGn-xKFZdU[/youtube]

posted 2:33:38pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »

SFX: The Foundry's Dazzling Reel of Special Effects
From top special effects firm The Foundry.  Enjoy! [iframe src="//player.vimeo.com/video/91528664" width="500" height="281"]

posted 8:00:16am Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »


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