Parts of this film are really beautiful, and the characters are likable. The Burpos have a marriage worth fighting for. Greg Kinnear plays a quality good guy patriarch pastor to a tea. When he cries, we cry. He could be our modern Michael Landon. And like Landon, he is walking his Highway to Heaven. He agonizes over all while the world doubts.
This film shares the gospel truth about a midwestern pastor’s struggle with finances and health issues only to be throttled by his son’s near death experience. Little Colton starts discussing his visit to heaven: seeing angels and animals, meeting Jesus and other family members like the great-grandfather he never knew and his unborn sister.
But then it shrinks back at the last moment claiming heaven is in all of us. I’m sure the sweet family who wrote the book felt a drop in their stomachs when they watched the feel good ending praise the message of a Universalist religion rather than the gospel they preach.
We can put up with a whole lot of still shots of the front of their house and discussions on the back porch. But it is painful to watch a whole film stand up and make a point only to sit down and deny it in the final moments.