Relatively Short Spoiler Free Movie Review: Spoiler alert: "Heaven Is For Real" conclusively and scientifically proves once and for all that heaven is for real! Okay, no, it doesn't really prove that but now that I have your attention, let me first start off by saying that this review is for a movie that I wouldn't ordinarily rush off to the theaters to see. It didn't have the big explosions, blockbuster special effects, shoot 'em up punch 'em out action, or risque humor of the movies I'd often watch. There are a number of movies I'd stay up late to watch the night before their official release--this movie, however, would not have been one of them. But bear with me, sometimes I surprise even myself. :)
As a little background, this movie is based upon a book written by a little boy (with some help from his father) that--this next part won't come as a surprise or spoiler--claims to have gone to heaven. Slightly more surprising is the fact that he claims to have gone to heaven although he never actually technically died. The book details his experiences including the impact the revelation had on his family including his preacher father played by Greg Kinnear. Upon the book's release, it's pint-sized author made the rounds to the various morning and daytime talk shows. Full disclaimer: I haven't actually read the book but I had heard about it from my mother who had read it back when it came out and so I asked her to accompany me to this preview. (Editor's Note: This is the part of the review where the female readers can all let out a collective sigh as they think about what a great son and wonderful young man the single, educated, financially stable author must be and how they really must meet him and/or match him up with their wonderful single female friends.) Her recollection was that--as is often the case with books-to-movies--the movie captured the most important elements of the book while de-emphasizing certain other elements in order to make for a more compelling film.
So, what are my thoughts on the actual film? I thought it was good. Really good. Maybe the movie had a stronger effect on me than it ordinarily would have since I had just dealt with my own grandmother's passing two weeks before seeing the film and I definitely wanted/needed to believe that heaven IS for real. While it's true that the movie probably won't turn any naysayers into believers (and in fact said naysayers will likely claim that the movie panders to Christians), those of us that do believe, will walk away from the theater with a gosh darn honest-to-goodness feeling. Please note that this is one of the first movies I didn't stick around to see the entire credits play out, as unlike the last movie I saw in the theaters, I highly doubted there would be any end credits scenes. Sam Jackson would NOT be making an appearance as Nick Fury and ask the young boy to join something called the "Avengers Initiative." :) That said, I did enjoy the fact that I got a kick out of the fact that the young boy in the film was a big comic book fan and spends a good chunk of the film clinging to his beloved Spider-Man action figure. Final Fun Film Fact: This movie also starred Thomas Haden Church who played Spidey's nemesis "The Sandman" in 2007's "Spider-Man 3" which is a summer blockbuster that I *did* rush to see.