Director: Randall Wallace
Cast: Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Thomas Haden Church, Margo Martindale, Connor Corum, Lane Styles
Running Time: 1hr 39mins
Release Date: 13th June 2014
Todd Burpo (Kinnear) is a small town preacher of some notoriety; he gives his flock the guidance they need while always engaging with his thought provoking sermons. When a number of challenges both personal and financial present themselves it is up to Todd and wife Sonia (Reilly) to keep the faith and endeavour to push on with life in all respects. Just when things are starting to look up their son Colton (Corum) is struck down with illness and the impact of his out-of-body experience not only affects Todd’s relationship with God, but also the local community. The fight to regain face and faith is a difficult one and only time will tell if the ultimate test of everything Todd believes in will be survivable.
Let’s not beat around the bush here, this is one of the worst possible ideas ever brought to the big screen and the fact that it is based on a true story makes it all the more difficult to endure. It is at best a television movie that would be bad, even in that format.
The building of the wholesome Todd, and how great a guy he is; coaching the wrestling team, working for gifts rather than cash and preaching as the town pastor is very laboured. You can tell from the off, because it’s the most obvious thing in cinematic history, that Todd Burpo is being set up for a major fall. The inevitable comes as no surprise and the fact that it’s so telegraphed is just plain boring. The character development is poor across the board and the death of a young soldier in combat, whose mother (Martindale) has been left to question why god would take her son doesn’t make it any more interesting, quite the opposite in fact.
The child’s out-of-body experiences and the representation of heaven is absolute nonsense. It lacks imagination and looks cheap; why the boy having his trip to heaven is such cause for consternation given they’re all so religious seems totally out of sync with the tone of the town as well.
The whole thing fails to grab the audience’s attention as it labours its way through the set-up and the actors never convince; Reilly is particularly guilty in this regard as she stumbles her way through another cardboard performance. Kinnear is a talented actor and despite his best efforts he can’t save it, as he, along with everyone else, has to work with the crappy dialogue they’ve been given.
There are attempts to be artistic with the vast farmlands of Nebraska captured beautifully in a number of scenes, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that the rest of it isn’t up to scratch. Featuring shoddy character development, crappy script writing and some very apathetic performances Heaven Is for Real is one to skip and forget ever existed. Nothing to see here.