The story opens to a young girl in Lithuania, present day, painting a picture of an eye with no explanation of who she is or what she is painting. Present day in Imperial, Nebraska, Todd Burpo (Greg Kinnear) is fixing a garage door at a local carpet business. Grant it he owns his own garage door emergency service and repair company, the husband of Sonja (Kelly Reilly) and two beautiful children, Cassie (Lane Styles) and her younger brother Colton (Connor Corum). Todd is a high school Longhorns wrestling coach as well as a volunteer firefighter and local pastor at Crossroads Wesleyan Church, the same church where Sonja sings in the choir.
The family is truly having their trials and tribulations, no money, no credit and as of late issues at the church ever since Colton was rushed to the hospital for emergency appendix surgery. Almost on deaths bed four year old Colton had an out of body experience and visited Heaven, sat with Jesus and was able to return to his family to tell them and the world of what happened while there, what heaven looked like and the faces of people that approached him with messages for home. So many experiences and situations Colton was able to discuss that in no possible way he could have ever known of while on earth. So many people tried to help the family, local banker Jay Wilkins (Thomas Haden Church) and friend and church committee member Nancy Rawlings (Margo Martindale) who had a personal loss several years earlier but as a town pulled together and at times apart, Todd began to question his faith. Is the thought of the unknown once made real a reason to test ones faith?
Faith opens our eyes. God is love. On earth as it is in heaven. As for young Colton his story has renewed faith in so many including myself more so than time can remember or repair the torment of so many years. This film of course is religious based but not so much that it will overwhelm the skeptics or people of no faith but maybe rather make them find a little meaning in their lives. Possibly help people cope with the loss of loved ones and to believe in something or someone that will lead them when their own times comes to a place similar to here but better. I thought the direction on this film was well done, keeping the story grounded and real and not going too far out on a limb while introducing the audience to heaven. The writing helps lead us down a path of understanding yet questioning our own thoughts and beliefs in this life and the possible one hereafter.
Kinnear is the core to this film keeping the audience in question of life, family, faith and God. Reilly is truly a nice support to Kinnear as is Church, Martindale and Styles but it is newcomer Corum that will make you believe in love and the faith of God. This young boy takes us on a journey and introduces us to the possibilities that as long as we love we will be forever loved by God. I hope that people will go to see this film for it may help to restore something broken inside each and every one if only for a short time or forever but either way it will make you think about whom you are and the way you live your life. I am a Roman Catholic but for years have moved more in the direction of spirituality as I live my life. I try to be honest and treat people as I myself would like to be treated and through it all am not afraid to tell someone I love them. Being kind, being honest, be truthful, praying for others and believing in love are all traits to be proud of, it is the people that have lost their way that need to find the right path and although this film is not church nor redemption for ones sins it may help to shine a bright light on one’s dark soul and lead them towards the true meaning of life and love. Oh yes and to answer that question about heaven and animals according to Colton there are many animals in heaven. Makes sense since they tend to show the unconditional love towards life that most people need to find and share themselves. Written and appreciated for making me think about life and love in the right ways with three paws out of four, I’m Jon Patch.