Nebraska pastor Todd Burpo (Greg Kinnear) spreads the news when his four-year-old son, Colton (Connor Corum), recalls meeting Jesus in heaven during an operation. Colton didn’t die at any point during his appendicitis surgery, and his description of paradise (a rainbow-colored horse, a light-eyed Jesus) doesn’t jive with the one his father has been preaching. But even his dubious mother (Kelly Reilly) is convinced when Colton suddenly develops insight into things he shouldn’t know about, including his parents’ miscarriage and his dad’s angry outburst during the surgery.
Based on a true story (and the 2010 bestselling book it inspired), Heaven is for Real has lots of sweet, Rockwellian imagery of small-town life and family high jinks. What it doesn’t have is dramatic tension: Todd’s broken leg and bout with kidney stones are given far more harrowing treatment than any of the movie’s lightweight faith-versus-doubt squabbles. There’s no antagonist, no resolution, and no real climax — just a series of mildly charming scenes in which Colton shares heavenly knowledge while his family reacts with awestruck tears. Their experience must’ve been extraordinary. The moviegoer’s is less so. C