Miracles from Heaven is the next installment of the “I’ve been to Heaven and lived to tell about it” series.
The Beam family lives in Burleson, Texas. Mom Christy (Jennifer Garner), her husband, veterinarian Kevin (Martin Henderson) and their three daughters Adelynn (Courtney Fansler), Anna (Kylie Rogers) and Abbie (Brighton Sharbino) live a nice country life full of livestock, cattle and their church. Kevin has just opened the biggest animal clinic for hundreds of miles around and their budget is stretched.
The girls spend most of their time outdoors, climbing trees, playing soccer and simply enjoying life, until the middle girl Anna gets sick. At first everyone thinks it’s a stomach virus, then acid reflux as her stomach balloons out. A late night trip to the ER and some serious testing reveals Anna’s intestines have stopped working. There is no cure and the best pediatric digestive specialist is in Boston.
Christy can’t believe God would allow a child to be in constant pain, on a nearly hourly regimen of drugs and fed through a stomach tube. When some catty women at her church bring up the same question, they start placing blame with Christy and Kevin. They leave the church.
All the time, Christy has been calling Dr. Nurko (Eugenio Derbez) in Boston daily. Exasperated, she finally books plane tickets to Boston and takes Anna to the Boston Children’s Hospital where the doctor practices. She begs the receptionist for help and at first none is given.
At their hotel, Anna and Christy meet a sassy waitress, Angela (Queen Latifah) who befriends them and shows them the sights in Boston. While they are out, Christy gets a phone call to have her daughter at the hospital at 7 a.m. the next day. Dr. Nurko is the perfect children’s doctor, full of fun and jokes as he performs test after test. He puts Anna on an experimental drug and they cross their fingers and go home.
A good part of the movie is spent on the trips to Boston, their visits with the doctor and trying drug after drug.
During one stay, Anna has a roommate who has cancer. As they talk, Anna tells of her faith in Jesus and that he loves her too. Anna gives the girl her cross, assuring her that Jesus loves her too. Finally, Anna gives up. She is tired of the pain. Christy has tried everything.
Unknown to them, Kevin decides to take his two other daughters and fly to Boston. It’s the tonic Anna needed to feel better, and the whole family returns home. One day when Anna has some energy, her older sister gets her to come outside and climb an ancient cottonwood tree in their front yard. They are having a wonderful time until the branch they are on cracks. Adelynn tells Anna to climb over to a knot in the tree big enough to hold her and she will climb down and get help. Anna leans against the knot and it collapses and Anna falls through the rotted tree and hits her head at the bottom.
It takes five hours to rescue Anna and the community comes together to support the family. Christy throws her arms around the tree and starts reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Other people come to her and they all pray for Anna’s safety as she is finally lifted to safety with a fireman and a crane. She is flown to a hospital with her mother.
When all the tests are done. The doctor comes out with amazing news. Other than a slight concussion and a few bruises, Anna is fine. Days go by and one day Anna asks for a pair of jeans her stomach has not allowed her to wear for some time. Her mother comes in, and is shocked to see Anna’s stomach is flat, and she is in no pain. Anna tells her mother than while she was in the tree, she went to Heaven and saw God, who told her she would wake up and be fine.
A trip to Boston confirms that Anna’s intestines are working again. The doctor can’t explain it, but Christy realizes she has witnessed a miracle. The biggest problem with this movie is the vast majority of it is spent seeing Anna get sicker and sicker. The fall, her visit to Heaven and conversation with God is just the bow on the package.
Perhaps, since the moviemakers got Jennifer Garner, they felt she could carry the film, though it’s not really her story.
Also, parents should consider the emotional maturity of their children before taking them to see “Miracles from Heaven.” Some of the tests and watching someone their age in pain and others dying, might be too much. It was during the screening. Several children were crying and upset.
While “Miracles from Heaven” is not a bad movie, it seemed more like is should have been on a cable movie channel rather than on the big screen.