Starring: Jennifer Garner, Kylie Rogers
Directed By: Patricia Riggen
Written By: Randy Brown
Running Time: 1 Hour 49 Minutes
Rated PG for Thematic Material, Including Accident and Medical Images
Plot: The true story of a young girl suffering from a rare digestive disorder, and the toll it takes on her and her family.
LANCE’S TAKE: PURGATORY
As Christian films become more and more popular, we’re starting to see a growing number of faith-based releases in theaters and, with the increase in revenue, studios can now afford to hire some big-name actors and actresses to join their projects.
That means a rise in the quality of acting in Christian movies, and filmmakers are more likely to get the emotions they’re looking for out of their viewers (depending on the talent of the director and screenwriter).
That’s certainly the case with Miracles from Heaven. Jennifer Garner, Queen Latifah, and Kylie Rogers (who plays Anna) all give incredible performances, and you can’t help but get wrapped up in the story they’re helping to tell.
And it’s a downright sad story for a good majority of the film. The Beam family just can’t seem to catch a break, no matter how hard they pray. Their little girl is forced to go through endless tests so her doctors can find out why she’s suffering from such enormous pain, and her parents are on the verge of going broke from all the medical treatments she has to endure.
That, I think, is one of the biggest strengths and weaknesses of this movie. Typically, in a faith-based film, the characters pray a single prayer, and it’s answered exactly when and how they want. That doesn’t happen here. Miracles from Heaven gives us a dramatic depiction of the trials the entire family faces, and Anna’s mother has her faith stretched far enough to where she reaches her breaking point. We actually get a sense of the challenges and unanswered questions Christians go through, and it gets really emotional.
That’s where the weakness comes in. To me, this film is almost too emotional. Yeah, I’ll admit, I welled up a couple of times, especially during one of the scenes where Anna’s struggling in the hospital. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel any form of sadness when it happens (I’ll leave you guessing as to which scene I’m talking about).
But, that’s a major moment where tear-welling is actually justified. It seems like most of the movie tries to drain our tear ducts dry. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great when a Christian movie can actually pull emotion from its viewers, but to try to do so for over half the film is overkill. I don’t want to have to keep checking around to see who’s judging me if my eyes start gushing like Old Faithful.
Besides that, Miracles from Heaven sort of feels like it’s riding on the coattails of Heaven is for Real, particularly since Heaven is for Real was still fresh on audiences’ minds when Miracles was released. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory, but if you watch the two films in a short time frame, you can definitely see the similarities.
This one, though, is the sadder of the two. And it is relentless. If you’re looking to cry like you’ve just suffered a major breakup, then Miracles from Heaven can certainly help you with that. If you’d still like to see the film but avoid the tears, just watch the trailer – it gives away the whole movie.
In all, I genuinely liked Miracles from Heaven – the acting and production value are outstanding. But, it’s not one I would want to see again for quite some time due to it’s heavy level of tear-jerkiness. That said, I’m left giving it an extremely high “Purgatory.”
MARY’S TAKE: REVELATION
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of movies that are based on true stories. Miracles from Heaven is no exception. This is one faith-based film that I’ll happily give a “Revelation” rating.
This film had one thing in its favor from the onset: a good cast. We’ve seen numerous times in other faith-based films how bad acting can ruin a story. Luckily, this time that wasn’t the case.
Although I was a little questionable about the believability of Queen Latifah’s character at first, I have to say there wasn’t one bad acting job in this whole film. And that is definitely a rarity in this genre.
If you choose to watch Miracles from Heaven, which I highly recommend you do, make sure you have plenty of tissues nearby. The wonderful acting makes the emotional scenes that much more emotional. It’s so easy to not only see the struggle, pain and doubt of the characters, but actually feel it along with them. I’ve seen this movie twice, and the second time, I seriously brought a pack of tissues along for everyone going to watch it with me.
It wasn’t just the fact that the acting makes the emotions seem real, the script actually included emotions and responses that “real” people would experience in those situations. Too many times, a filmmaker is afraid to show doubt in a Christian character, but it’s what makes the story so relatable. I don’t want to watch a movie about a bunch of people who have everything together and never question their faith in God, because that’s just not how it is in real life. I feel like Miracles from Heaven did a great job of showing that it’s okay to question your faith, and that God’s actually going to use this instance to strengthen your faith.
I love something Anna says when talking about people doubting. She says, “It’s okay, they’ll get there when they get there.” I think that simple statement is something we all need to remember throughout our everyday lives. It’s okay that not everybody is where we are in their walk of faith. They’ll get there when they get there.
The only issue I have with the movie is actually pretty minor. One of the big obstacles the family faces is having enough money for the treatments and the airfare back and forth. It shows them selling possessions they love, just to be able to pay the bills. This leaves me asking myself how Anna and her mom are able to make so many trips to the aquarium in Boston. As any mom who has planned spring break or summer trips to the zoo or aquarium can tell you, it gets expensive very quickly. I could understand one trip, rationalizing that it’s worth the money to raise Anna’s spirits. But, numerous trips seem excessive and they start to make the story somewhat unbelievable. But, as I said, it’s a pretty minor part of the film, and most people probably wouldn’t even notice.
Last, but not least, I love how the writers took the time to point out the “everyday heroes” and how important they are in our lives. It was a quick, but effective, reminder that sometimes a simple gesture could mean very little to you, but it may change someone else’s life. Or, it could at least give them the hope they need to hold on for one more day.
And who knows, maybe it’ll only take one more day for their miracle to arrive.
How would you rate this film?