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One look at the film’s title and you could dismiss this as another one of those forgettable Christian feel-good films Hollywood pushes out every Easter. And you wouldn’t be entirely wrong.
A thin plot and simple characters don’t help, but even that might not quell the American appetite for stories about miracles and heaven. It’s worth noting Miracles from Heaven (rated PG) follows up Heaven Is for Real, a 2014 sleeper hit that earned $101 million at the box office, based on a book that sold 10 million copies. Both were produced by megachurch preachers T.D. Jakes and DeVon Franklin, Christians with genuine intentions and a track record for attracting evangelicals to the theater.
So this feel-good film may not be good, but it will feel good, and there’s apparently enough interest that it won’t be forgotten.
The plot is based on a true story: Christy (Jennifer Garner) and Kevin Beam (Martin Henderson) are Christians enjoying life in suburban Texas when 10-year-old Anna (Kylie Rogers) falls ill to a rare, incurable intestinal disorder, sending the family through a spiral of hospital visits, teary conversations, and sleepless nights in uneasy chairs. Then while playing outside, Anna falls 30 feet headfirst through a hollow tree.
Anna’s fate seems all too certain, but then keep in mind the movie title.
Sadly, the faith-based Miracles does a clumsy job actually explaining faith. Recounting his dying daughter’s final weeks, one character says, “She felt safe. She felt loved, she felt God. She felt that way because Anna gave her faith.”
Another offers a greeting card nugget: “At the lowest times in my life, I’ve tried it both ways—doing everything I can to connect to God, or walking away. One way feels a whole lot better than the other.”
Who knows, such comforting words may encourage biblical belief. But if a Christian feel-good movie implies faith is only about feelings, maybe it’s not so comforting after all.