Thursday, December 4, 2014

MOVIE WEEKEND: HEAVEN IS FOR REAL

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I have a movie for you that moved me because of its spiritual nature. Willy Dunne Wooters and I watched it on Thanksgiving after dining on turkey. It's Heaven Is For Real (2014, PG, Available On DVD, but we watched it on Starz because Starz was free all weekend).


I didn't know anything about this movie, but it has "Heaven" in the title (a plus), and it stars Greg Kinnear (another plus). I cleaned up as quickly as I could after we ate because I wanted to watch the Greg Kinnear movie. WDW said, I like Greg Kinnear, too.

So we sat down, and I was surprised to see a story unfold that's based on a true story, which usually means that Hollywood has exaggerated the story. However, WDW and I did some research. We learned that the movie does not deviate much from reality as the family portrayed in the movie experienced it.

Pastor Todd Burpo (Greg Kinnear) serves at a small church in Nebraska with his wife Sonja (Kelly Reilly), who is in charge of the church's music program. During 2003, Todd and Sonja take their son and daughter on a little vacation. When they return home, both children are horribly sick with what seems to be a stomach bug or flu. Their daughter recovers, but almost four-year-old son Colton's (Connor Corum) condition deteriorates.

Todd and Sonja rush Colton to a hospital, where they learn he has a ruptured appendix--a life threatening event. Colton is rushed into surgery. Later, he tells his father about events he witnessed while he was on the operating table, events about which he couldn't have known. Todd questions his son, who explains that he went to Heaven and saw Jesus. He says that Jesus has a horse that is all the colors of the rainbow, and Heaven is like Earth, except everything is brighter and more beautiful. Everyone is young, too, which Todd learns from Colton when he says he met Todd's grandfather. Colton only recognizes "Pop" from a photo taken when he was a young man.

Colton tells his parents many details about Heaven, and eventually--with the help of a painting--he answers his father biggest question: What does Jesus look like?

I felt a bit sad to see that Heaven Is For Real doesn't have very high ratings on the Internet Movie Database, nor on Rotten Tomatoes. I loved it. Greg Kinnear is perfect in his part as the earnest pastor. Little Connor Corum is so sweet and innocent. He does very well in his first movie role.

And how can you beat a story that reveals some of the realities of Heaven?

The movie is based on a book by Todd Burpo, also titled Heaven Is For Real. It was released in 2010 and became a best seller.

Willy Dunne Wooters agreed that the movie is touching, but I wanted to slap him because he kept complaining that the image of Jesus in the movie is promoted only by very conservative Americans. I don't see what difference it makes. Supposedly, most people who have a Near Death Experience see the Savior in whatever image they have in their minds from their lives. For example, Colton says Jesus has greenish-blue eyes. One of his parents has green eyes. The other has blue eyes. The important facet of the movie to me is that Heaven is for real, as I've know for so long. I love the affirmation. For me, Jesus will probably have dark eyes.

Heaven Is For Real earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval. I don't think I'd allow young children to watch it. They might be afraid they'll die if they get sick. Otherwise, I think it's a great movie to watch during the Christmas season, unless you're such a skeptic that you can't possibly enjoy anything about it.

Happy viewing!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

38 comments:

  1. I read this book and it was very moving - I think I have to watch this movie; I need some new viewing options.

    Plus, I loves me some Kinnear. I loved him in "As Good As It Gets."

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    1. As Good As It Gets is an excellent movie. I was disappointed that Greg Kinnear didn't win the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. I love him in Little Miss Sunshine, too, which WDW and I think is hilarious.

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  2. I've never trusted Rotten Tomatoes. Their ratings for everything are so askew.

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  3. Hi Janie - I read about this a few years back. I think it was a magazine interview with the family. Very interesting and sweet. I'd forgotten all about there being a movie. I'll have to check it out. Thank you!

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    1. I saw a trailer for the movie some time ago. I didn't realize it was a true story. I also forgot to put it in my Netflix queue, so I was thrilled when it turned up on the Starz free weekend.

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  4. Starz is available on cable or satellite TV for an additional fee, much like Showtime, though I don't think Starz has as much original content. Our satellite TV company allowed its customers to watch Starz for free during Thanksgiving weekend. Various channels do this from time to time in an attempt to entice customers to purchase the channel.

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  5. Janie, we saw the movie and loved it. I agree that Greg Kinear did a great job, and I have enjoyed his acting in other movies as well. I agree that it is nice to see a movie that has a good spiritual quality, and all of wonder about heaven and the hereafter...what will it look like? Thanks for your review on this.

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    1. I love movies that are based on spirituality--as long as it's handled with kindness and tolerance.

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  6. I liked Greg Kinnear in As Good As It Gets. But the dog should have won as Oscar.

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    1. The dog is so funny when he imitates the way Jack Nicholson walks.

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  7. I haven't seen this movie although My Rare One did and said it was good. I do know, however, that it was filmed here in Canada in my old home city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Those gorgeous shots of golden wheat fields are all from my old stomping grounds. Canada often masquerades as the US in movies because it's cheaper to film up here.

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    1. I've heard for quite some time now that many movies and TV shows that are in America are really in Canada. Canada is a beautiful country.

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  8. Hi, Janie Junebug! For years I have enjoyed Greg Kinnear's acting. It still burns me that his TV lawyer series Rake got canceled. I can picture Greg in the role of a Midwest pastor and I look forward to watching Heaven is For Real. I refer to the IMDB quite often and rarely agree with their rating scores. I think there are a lot of Heaven haters, people who automatically dismiss movies, TV shows and works of art and literature that have the utter audacity to suggest that Heaven is real. Cynical is the new black. I choose to believe and so do you. That's powerful.

    Happy Thursday, dear friend Janie!

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    1. You're right: Quite a few people want nothing to do with religion or spirituality.

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  9. This sounds like a movie sure to please a lot of people.

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  10. I'd like to read the book. One could get into some very philosophical discussions about the nature of heaven. I personally think whatever experience we have in the afterlife is strongly based on our religious beliefs and earthly experiences. But that's just my two cents. Who really knows?

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    1. Your beliefs are the same as mine. We'll find out if we're right.

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  11. I watched earlier this year and I almost -- almost cried.

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    1. I didn't actually cry, but I had to wipe away a tear or two.

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  12. I haven't seen it yet, but friends saw it and really enjoyed it. Nice to know they stayed true to the actual story.
    Unlike the travesty that is the upcoming Exodus...

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    1. Are you saying a movie that's based on Exodus is coming out? Oh, dear.

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  13. I have not heard of this but it looks amazing.

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  14. I shall have to keep an eye out for this one. Thanks Janie.

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  15. I have wanted to see this one. I have Starz so I will try to catch it.

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  16. I've seen the book lots of times in the bookstore. I should read it because I am curious about people's accounts of near death experiences.

    My mother was very sick and in a coma when I was little. She met Jesus when she was dying. He told her that she couldn't die yet, that she had to go back for the sake of my brother and me (My other three sisters hadn't been born yet). But he gave her the choice of living or dying. My mother chose to live because we needed her ~ somewhat reluctantly because she could sense the peace and healing of being with Jesus.

    I've never had an experience like that myself; but once, when I was held under gunpoint and certain I was about to die momentarily, I had an out of body experience ~ "I" completely separated from my physical body and was looking down on me, the guy with the gun, the entire scene. I had no fear, but I couldn't understand what this slow booming noise I heard was. I realized later that it was my pounding heart. I simply can't believe that this separation was an illusion or defense mechanism created by my brain. I KNOW I have a soul. When the gunman suddenly threw down his gun and walked away, I snapped instantly into my physical body again, although I shook for about twenty minutes afterwards.

    Maybe I'll go see this movie!
    Thanks for your review.
    Have a happy Friday!

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    1. Thanks for sharing these interesting experiences with us. I was very ill when Favorite Young Man was two. It occurred to me that I might die, but at the second I had that thought, God told me that I was not going to die because Favorite Young Man needed me. I didn't see Jesus or a light or hear a booming voice. God simply imparted the knowledge to me, and I knew whence it came.

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  17. I do like Greg Kinnear and I did hear about this book when it came out. Thanks. I hadn't realized they made it into a movie. :)

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    1. I think you'd enjoy it, especially because of your experiences with G.A.

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  18. Hmmm...interesting. i don't have a lot of interest in watching this, but i do like greg kinnear too...

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  19. Another fine review. Funny, I have looked at this one a number of times but for some reason, gave it a pass. My tastes seem to be in line with your recommendations so I'm going to give this one a try. Thanks for the helpful reviews. Here's an interesting film for you: The Fall. I had it on blu ray for, wow, years. It got amazing reviews but I never bothered to watch. LOVED it. I am pretty sure it is streaming on Netflix. The cover is a man with a red mask. I think you'll enjoy it and fun fact, it was shot over 4 years in 10 countries so all the gorgeous scenery is real. Check it out. :)

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    1. I'll look for The Fall right now so I don't forget.

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