‘Miracles From Heaven’: Tear-jerking takes away from upbeat story

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Kylie Rogers and Jennifer Garner in “Miracles From Heaven.” | Chuck Zlotnick/Sony Pictures

We hear many people complain there are not enough family-friendly, uplifting films released by Hollywood to balance out the far edgier fare that arguably gets far more publicity.

However, this spring, number of faith-based movies are available to audiences including the clearly Easter-focused “Risen” and “The Young Messiah,” and the upcoming “God’s Not Dead 2.”

Now joining them is “Miracles From Heaven,” based on Texan Christy Beam’s book, inspired by the story experienced by her family, and particularly her daughter, Anna.

A very earnest Jennifer Garner plays Christy, showcasing the seemingly insurmountable struggle she underwent to find a cure or a treatment for Anna’s mysterious and clearly deadly digestive disorder. Suddenly, after a freak accident — a frightening fall into a hollow tree on her family’s rural property — Anna not only is cured, but reveals her miraculous recovery was thanks to her being transported into the presence of the Almighty.

Without question, this movie does elicit “feel-good” emotions — largely driven by Garner’s ability to exude genuine maternal devotion and the charm of young Kylie Rogers, who is convincing as Anna, especially making believable the pain the little girl must have undergone.

Queen Latifah clearly was comfortable portraying a Boston waitress who befriends Christy and Anna, as they struggle for an appointment to see a specialist who reportedly is the world’s leading expert on Anna’s condition.

That gastroenterologist is ably played by Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez, who adds a wonderful touch of humor and love, as pediatric physicians often do as they treat kids facing really tough medical challenges.

My problem with this film is that screenwriter Randy Brown and director Patricia Riggen went for the obvious choices and easy avenues to accomplish tear-jerking moments as we witness Anna’s journey. Of course, it’s terrific that the young girl has recovered and continues to live the normal life we’d wish for any of our children. However, I constantly had the sense I was witnessing a formulaic Hallmark Channel-type approach that really did not elevate this genre in any new ways.

Part of the blame goes to composer Carlo Siliotto’s soundtrack, which swells up and down in a cheesy manner throughout the entire film.

★★1⁄2

Columbia Pictures presents a film directed by Patricia Riggen and written by Randy Brown, based on the book by Christy Beam. Running time: 108 minutes. Rated PG (for thematic material including accident and medical images). Opens Wednesday at local theaters.


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