Miracles From Heaven parents guide

Miracles From Heaven Parent Review

Devoid of the usual content issues, most Christian viewers will appreciate the production's messages of hope and the existence of God

Overall B+

When their young daughter (Kylie Rogers) is diagnosed with a digestive ailment, Christy and Kevin Beam (Jennifer Garner and Martin Henderson) find their faith in God being tried while they pray for a miracle.

Violence B
Sexual Content A
Profanity A-
Substance Use A

Miracles From Heaven is rated PG for thematic material, including accident and medical images.

Movie Review

The faith based movie train is rolling full steam ahead, and Miracles From Heaven is the next car to pull into the station. From Sony’s Affirm Films (which just released Risen a few weeks earlier) this is a movie based on the real life experience of young Texas child, Anna Beam.

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Anna (impeccably depicted by Kylie Rogers) is getting tummy aches and vomiting on a daily basis. Her mother Christy (in a spot on performance by Jennifer Garner) does what so many parents have done. She parades Anna to a litany of doctors who tell her the little girl is perfectly fine—or at worst lactose intolerant. But this mom isn’t going to accept the “all is well” response any longer. Finally, after a long night in an emergency room, a doctor discovers that Anna has a disease that essentially causes her gut to paralyze. Put simply, her food intake is trapped in her digestive tract. It’s a life threatening condition with no known cure.

From here Christy begins the anticipated trek to save her child. Only one specialist in the country has the necessary experience with the illness. Leaving her husband Kevin (Martin Henderson) at home with their other two girls, his brand new veterinary practice and mountain of debt, the dedicated mom hops a jet with Anna and heads to Boston to see Dr. Nurko (Eugenio Derbez). The problem is she’s been on Nurko’s wait list for months and she still doesn’t have an appointment. However, this is a movie about miracles and the first one comes a day after she pleads to see the doctor and manages to get an early morning appointment. From here, mother and daughter begin a new life schedule of every-six-week flights and a continual stream of heartbreaking disappointments. With Anna’s condition worsening, the pair heads home with a palliative care agenda—until Anna’s big sister Abbie (Brighton Sharbino) talks her into climbing a rotting cottonwood tree in the family yard.

If you’ve seen the trailer you may feel like you’ve seen the movie—however there is more to this story than Anna’s fall from the tree that miraculously heals her. Where the real payoff for your box office dollars lies is during the many scenes where Christy must keep her desperation in check while trying to deal with circumstances spiraling out of control. Yes, Anna’s “spontaneous remission” is a miracle, but the real story is about her mother and how faith kept her from falling from her own figurative tree. During the process Christy claims she’s lost her belief in God but the evidence on screen still displays a dedicated woman willing to move heaven and earth to see her daughter get better. And, for some reason no one can explain, that’s exactly what happens.

Devoid of the usual content issues, most viewers will appreciate the production’s messages of hope and the existence of God. Yet this may be sensitive territory for some families, especially if they have experienced similar situations with less favorable outcomes. The fact is, Hollywood seldom makes movies about youngsters who die—they make them about the tiny few who are granted a miraculous gift. Frankly, happy endings are much easier to market and sell. Still I wonder if a story about a child who succumbs to an illness might not be just as effective (and perhaps feel more authentic) in demonstrating why a person might need to put their trust in a higher power. Christy’s challenged faith is fully restored after her daughter is healed; yet many more parents must try to see the miracles offered even when their prayers aren’t answered as they hoped. That’s not to take anything way from this well crafted account of actual events. It would just be nice to see other examples of faith in theaters that don’t have the wrapped-in-a-bow (and overtly sentimental) conclusion this one offers.

Directed by Patricia Riggen. Starring Jennifer Garner, Martin Henderson, Queen Latifah. Running time: 105 minutes. Theatrical release March 16, 2016. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Miracles From Heaven here.

Miracles From Heaven Parents Guide

The script in this movie talks about choice: You can choose to see miracles or not too, you can chose to believe God is mindful of you or face your challenges alone. How does the way we choose to look at a situation affect the way we see it? How might being able to stay positive in such negative circumstances be a miracle in itself? Where can you look for miracles in your own life?

Many of the characters portrayed here ask, “Why?” Why do innocent children suffer? Why would a loving God not heal them? What answers do you have for those questions? Why is pain necessary for gain, both in physical growth and spiritual strength?

Which do you think is harder—enduring pain yourself or watching someone you love suffer? How does the experience take its toll on each of the family members depicted here? Where would you turn for help if you were facing this situation? What could you do to support someone else who is carrying such a burden?