Directed by Patricia Riggen. Produced by DeVon Franklin, T. D. Jakes, and Joe Roth. Written by Randy Brown. Release date: March 18, 2016.
A couple of years ago, a movie called Heaven is for Real was released. It saw a child who had surgery, died for a few minutes, came back to life, claimed he went to heaven and saw God, and then his family preached about that to the world - based on the "real story." It was horrible for many reasons - the kid who played the lead was awful, it was unbelievably preachy, and it lacked almost any semblance of conflict, among other things. Now, two years later, we've got Miracles from Heaven, which tells more or less the same story, but only in its final 20 minutes.
Based on "real events," Miracles from Heaven is a film that plays for nearly two hours, and has the first 90 of them focused on watching a child be sick in the hospital. The child is Anna (Kylie Rogers), the middle child of a family led by mother Christy (Jennifer Garner) and father Kevin (Martin Henderson). She comes down with stomach problems and, after a couple of misdiagnoses, it is discovered she has a pseudo-obstruction motility disorder, which means she can't process food properly. So, she spends most of her time in and out of the hospital, eating through feeding tubes, and having an awful time of it.
However - and since this is a "true story," remember, it's impossible to spoil - one day she falls down a hollowed-out tree, suffers a near-death experience, and wakes up to find her disorder cured. Oh, and she talked to God, who told her she'd be fine - something she just kind of mentions randomly, like it's an afterthought. You know all of this if you watch the trailer, by the way, because it gives you almost literally the entire movie, except it shortens the "kid is sick" portion - at least 75% of the film - down to about a minute. The only thing you miss is an oddball fantasy scene that rivals the one in The 33, which is funny because Miracles from Heaven has been directed by Patricia Riggen, who was also behind The 33.
Miracles from Heaven is a better movie than Heaven is for Real. Watching a family deal with a perpetually sick child - and the ramifications thereof - is somewhat intriguing, even if it goes on for far too long. We have to see them struggle financially, have a crisis of faith, and even deal with some hostile members of their church who provide some Class A victim blaming. And since the majority of the movie focuses on this, it's not all overwhelmingly bad. It even has decent production values!