Thursday, July 31, 2014
Movie Review: Heaven Is For Real
I read the book and liked it. The book was heartwarming, well-written, and thought-provoking. Whether or not I think there is a theological discrepancy between the heaven that the book presents and the real heaven, the book was a good read. It neither bolstered my faith nor attacked it. I didn't need this story to convince me that there was a heaven, because I already knew there was, not because I have been there, but because I know the Creator of heaven, and I trust what He has told me in His word. Overall, it was a cute story, fun to read, planted a "maybe" or a "what-if" in my mind regarding certain topics (like what happens to miscarried babies), and said nothing (in my opinion) overtly objectionable.
The movie, on the other hand, was terrible. I did not like it, it was a waste of time, it was very poorly done, it didn't resonate, there was no pacing or climax or fluid movement from scene to scene, and overall it attacked the true, Biblical heaven more than it upheld it. They left out good scenes that were in the book and put in cheesy, eye-rolling scenes that were not in the book. The overall effect of the movie was to emphasize doubt rather than belief in heaven's existence. All through the movie, I kept wanting to walk out of the room. It was that bad.
One scene that I particularly disliked was of the family in the car, driving to Denver and singing a Bible chorus together (I think it was the B-I-B-L-E). They are singing half-heartedly, and Colton, the little boy, is not singing at all. He interrupts the music to ask, "Can we sing 'We Will Rock You'?" The whole family stops singing the other song and immediately launches into "We Will Rock You" at the top of their lungs, obviously smiling and having a much better time. Therefore, it depicts Christian songs as boring and Christian people as being incapable of worship, while it depicts worldly songs as universally enjoyable.
Then, when the movie depicts Colton's journey into heaven, it shows him walking into the church and the angels are singing to him. It is truly angelic music, and he interrupts the song to ask them, "Can you sing 'We Will Rock You'?" The angels laugh, a subdued, tittering, sporadic laugh that was so fake and so dumb that it made me groan.
Another scene that is at the top of mind to point out as particularly problematic was when Todd (Colton's father and also the pastor of the local church) is at the graveyard and runs into a woman who is one of his parishioners and who has previously been outspoken and argumentative with him regarding the whole heaven thing. She is there to mourn her son, who was in the military and died at a young age. She is sad and vulnerable and apologetic for being argumentative. She admits that she is mad at God.
"Do you think my son is in heaven?" she asks Todd.
Todd asked her, "Do you still love your son?"
She nods yes.
Todd says, "Do you think I love mine?"
She nods yes.
Todd says, "Do you think God knows I love my son?"
She nods yes.
Todd says, "Do you think God loves my son more than your son?"
She dissolves into tears and shakes her head no and gives Todd a hug while she lays her head on his shoulder and cries tears of relief. The obvious implication that Todd is making is that her son is in heaven. The question is completely ignored of whether or not her son met the Biblical criteria of faith in the work of Christ and repentance from sin.
Finally, there is a scene near the end of the movie where Todd gets a phone call from the local radio station and he is informed that he is live on the air. The talk show host begins to ask him about his son's experience in heaven. Todd says, "Come to the church on Sunday morning and I'll tell you all about it." Up until this point, Todd has been conflicted, doubting, trying to make sense of his son's stories, and trying to make sense of his own faith. This is supposed to be his public statement vindicating the truth of heaven and faith and the resolution of his turmoil. Church is packed and Todd gets up and preaches THE W.O.R.S.T. sermon I have ever heard. It was so unbiblical, so deficient of value, so substance-less, so utterly lousy, and so worthy of ridicule that I literally had to get up and walk back and forth in the kitchen. When I did, my friends asked me, "Are you crying? Or are you laughing?" I replied, "I don't even have words for the contempt I feel for this right now." The film showed the faces of the congregation as Todd preached. They looked sincere. Some were nodding and others had tears in their eyes. It made the whole congregation into a superstitious bunch of idiots to have been moved by a message like that.
If I were to detail all the things I dislike about this movie, they would stretch from the beginning to the end of the film. I am looking for anything at all positive to say about it, racking my brain to think of any redeeming value it has in, and I literally cannot think of one thing. It would be better not to watch this at all than to watch it. I watched it to satisfy my curiosity, and I came away utterly disappointed.