Miracles From Heaven(2016)
- RatedPG /GenreDrama
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This Christian drama is a telemovie blown up to big screen proportions. While it boasts above-average performances, there's a lack of real drama and a highly predictable storyline. Those outside of its main audience group will probably find it tedious, despite some well-known acting talent and a sizable production budget.
Based on the memoir by Christy Beam, the Beams are a family in a small town in Texas. Dad Kevin (Martin Henderson) is a vet while Christy (Jennifer Garner) is a housewife trying to keep things together. 10-year-old Anna, the Beams' second daughter, is afflicted with constant stomach pains. The local doctors dismiss it as lactose intolerance, but Christy (Jennifer Garner) knows that it's something far more serious. She brings Anna to Boston in order to see a specialist, but despite the doctor's best efforts, Anna's condition worsens.
If you haven't guessed, there's a miracle. Anna falls down a tree trunk and gets better overnight. She claims to have gone to Heaven and met God, who sent her back to Earth, cured. Christy regains her faith, as Anna's story spreads worldwide.
While the movie is more than one and a half-hours long, it's a story that could have been squeezed into an hour. There's a lot of padding thrown in, with tons of small crisis and the usual tropes. The family goes through a hard time adjusting to the changes, as dad Kevin has to sell off his Harley and work multiple shifts while the other two sisters try to be supportive of Anna.
The acting is above-average, and director Patricia Riggen squeezes great performances from the kids, particularly Kylie Rogers, who plays Anna. Former A-list actress Garner has the most screen time, though the constant assault of her frustration and tears becomes tedious by the midway point. Queen Latifah has a small role as a friend of the Beams who shows them around Boston while providing some comic relief.
The movie tries not to be too preachy, but it's unavoidable, particularly when the miracle comes in such a bizarre sequence. Couldn't God have just cured Anna without throwing her down a tree trunk? Maybe just off a swing?
Despite its faults, Miracles From Heaven, made on a tiny budget of US$13 million, has gone on to earn US$62 million at the box-office. One wonders if this will mean a deluge of faith-based movies with former big stars. Miracles pretty much preaches to the choir, and is unlikely to convince anyone other than the faithful. It overflows with sincerity, but little conviction.