Life after death, with a side of charm

from the novel “Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip
to Heaven and Back,” this film tells the story of Colton Burpo’s trip to heaven
and how the telling of his story affects his church and community.

“Heaven is for Real” is an unapologetically Christian film that does an excellent of job of displaying the Christian faith without alienating other belief systems or brazenly attempting to proselytize the audience.

At its core, the movie displays how people of faith react to evidence suggesting that what they believe about an after-life is actually true. Some people embrace it, some people reject it and some others make fun of it. But regardless of where on this spectrum they fall, they all had to examine their beliefs and deal with the results.

Part of what helps make this movie so wonderful is the script and direction by Randall Wallace (co-written by Chris Parker). While he is best known for films like “Braveheart,” “We Were Soldiers,” “Pearl Harbor,” “The Man in the Iron Mask,” and “Secretariat,” he brings to this project the same passion of his previous works—but that passion is packaged in a different box. It’s a family friendly film with a message of faith, hope and love.

Greg Kinnear as Todd Burpo brings a simplicity to his character that makes him humble and complex simultaneously. Todd is the kind of pastor who refuses to be called by a title, preferring his parishioners to use only his first name. But because of his virtuous character, he is not treated commonly; people still show him deference.

As Sonja Burpo, Kelly Reilly plays the wife of Todd and mother of children Colton and Cassie with unbelievable grace and elegance. She is able to display vulnerability and strength in the dual role of wife and mother.

The secret weapon in the film, however, is Connor Corum as Colton Burpo. This little boy is absolutely adorable, and on top of it, he’s a tremendous actor. For this role to be played successfully, it was necessary to have a cute kid in the role. But Corum was also able to take the innocence of childhood and make it angelic (no pun intended). He showed an acting maturity well beyond his years.

And as Colton’s big sister Cassie, Lane Styles was remarkable. She was the mischievous sister who refused to let anyone make fun of her baby brother.

When all is said and done, whether or not you are a religious person, “Heaven is for Real” is a worthwhile movie that will cause you to, at least, consider what happens after you die.