Review: Miracles from Heaven, B-
Rated PG, 105 minutes
There hasn't been a shortage of faith-based movies lately, but it's often a miracle to find one that's truly great. The uplifting new faith-based film "Miracles from Heaven" is fortunately better than most, with a restrained message and a decent cast, though it's central kid-went-to-heaven premise is the same manipulative gimmick used previously in the similarly-themed 2013 hit "Heaven is for Real." When Texan Christy Beam (Jennifer Garner) discovers her 10-year-old daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) has a rare, incurable disease, she becomes a ferocious advocate for her daughter's healing as she searches for a solution. After Anna has a freak accident, an extraordinary miracle unfolds in the wake of her dramatic rescue that leaves everyone mystified. Directed by Patricia Riggen ("Under the Same Moon") and written by Randy Brown ("The Trouble with the Curve") and based on Fort Worth, Texas resident Christy Beam's best-selling novel "Miracles from Heaven: A Little Girl, Her Journey to Heaven, and Her Amazing Story of Healing" about her daughter Anna's miraculous recovery from an incurable disorder, the film isn't without its touching moments though its gimmicky premise late in the last act makes it feel like this should be on Lifetime or straight-to-DVD. Produced by Texas megapastor T.D. Jakes, "Heaven" is best as a decent medical drama with a talented supporting cast, including "Grey's Anatomy's" Martin Henderson as Anna's Dad, Eugenio Derbez from the hit "Instructions Not Included" as Anna's down-to-earth doctor, Queen Latifah as a generous new Bostonian friend, and character actor John Carroll Lynch as the Beam's pastor. Given that it's usually (and admittedly) difficult to see children in pain, "Miracles" has a fair share of compelling, very sentimental moments, so plan on taking some tissues if you want to make it through it successfully, and it's fair handling of Christianity may make it appeal to a slightly wider audience than these things usually go for (and having the always plucky, positive Garner on board helps too). Better than most in this genre, the pleasantly forgettable "Miracles from Heaven" manipulates with the best of them, which will leave very few dry eyes in the house.