90 Minutes in Heaven parents guide

90 Minutes in Heaven Parent Review

"90 Minutes in Heaven" is a fine example of how a movie can demonstrate the benefits of living within a faith community,

Overall A

Pastor Don Piper (Hayden Christensen) is pronounced dead after a terrible car accident. But while his family and friends pray over his loss, Don has an out-of-body experience.

Violence B-
Sexual Content A
Profanity A
Substance Use A

90 Minutes in Heaven is rated PG-13 for intense accident and injury images.

Movie Review

When reading a review on a recently released Christian film, the writer expressed a frustration I too have felt when watching faith-based movies. The critic was reasonably happy with the performances and concept, yet felt the movie fell far short of its potential because the world in which it existed was highly “sanitized” and “stacked the deck in favor of Christianity.”

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With that criticism in mind I came into 90 Minutes in Heaven somewhat expecting this two-hour movie to spend ninety minutes viewing the afterlife through the eyes of Pastor Don Piper (who did have this experience in real life) followed by a direct testimony of the reality of heaven. I was right about the teaching moment near the end, but the lead up was not at all what I was expecting, and definitely addresses the criticism of Christian movies being filled with lollipops and rainbows.

Don Piper (played by Hayden Christensen) is driving home from a church conference one day in a pounding rainstorm when an oncoming truck hits him. Pronounced dead, his body rests in the crumpled vehicle waiting for the coroner to arrive. But when a stranger arrives at the scene, who also identifies himself as a minister, he insists he must pray for the occupant of the car. Crawling into the wreck he pleads with God to restore the man’s life and his prayer is answered.

However the path that lies ahead after this miracle recovery is far worse than anyone could ever imagine. Don’s broken body will require over 30 surgeries and months of rehabilitation. Yet an even greater problem exists within the survivor’s mind. He has seen heaven and is literally dying to leave the hell he has returned to in mortality. Ignoring the pleas of his wife Eva (Kate Bosworth) and friends to regain his will to live, this once confident man of God now lies in his bed waiting for another ticket to the next life.

Don’s selfish desire permeates much of this film as we watch him turn, what many us would view as an incredible blessing, into a challenge that leaves him unresponsive toward those who love him most. Only after a close friend frankly confronts Don’s difficult attitude and behavior does he recognize the reasons why God has returned him to face the pains and struggles of life. Thanks to solid performances from Hollywood veterans, along with a pleasant but never intrusive musical score by Michael W. Smith, this film’s message is powerful and has broad application for any of us who may twist some of our greatest opportunities into our biggest barriers.

While free from profanity and sexual content, this movie doesn’t shy away from portraying this man’s injuries. Many medical scenes include depictions of bloody and swollen wounds that may be a bit much for young audiences. Considering the somewhat mature themes, this title would be best suited for teens and adults.

90 Minutes in Heaven is a fine example of how a movie can demonstrate the benefits of living within a faith community, while not ignoring the realities of being human (such as having to pay massive medical bills). Watching this group of Christians pull together to help a man who isn’t quick to respond in kind, should be touching and inspiring to audiences that span a wide range of beliefs and religions.

Directed by Michael Polish. Starring Kate Bosworth, Hayden Christensen, Hudson Meek. Running time: 121 minutes. Theatrical release September 11, 2015. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in 90 Minutes in Heaven here.

90 Minutes in Heaven Parents Guide

What benefits of having faith are depicted in this film? How does the movie show the positive outcomes of living within a Christian community? Are these advantages also applicable to people of other religious groups?

Why do we sometimes turn good experiences into negative situations? Have you ever done this? Why are some people able to see the good in things where others only see the bad? Is there a benefit to being generally optimistic?

What lessons does Don Piper learn from his experience? How have you been blessed after serving or doing something nice for someone else? How can another person’s difficulty become a positive experience for him or her, as well as to those who help them?

90 Minutes in Heaven is opening in limited theaters>

This movie is based an the book 90 Minutes in Heaven, by Don Piper.