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Heaven is for Real is a 2014 religious film that was inspired from the 2010 novel of the same name. The film recounts the story of Colton Burpo, the son of Todd Burpo, a Christian pastor, and his story of visiting Heaven in a near-death experience when he was having surgery on his broken appendix.

The following film has these tropes:


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  • Adaptation Distillation: Very much, to the point it could be considered a Compressed Adaptation. For example, Colton's hospital stay is severely condensed, as is the family's trip to Colorado. Some of Colton's visions, such as halos of light around certain people's heads and a heavenly battle, are never discussed. By contrast, some things are adapted in, such as the Hispanic family that the Burpos are good friends with and a few other characters.
  • Adult Fear: When Colton contracted appendicitis, his sister contracted the stomach flu at the same time, causing everyone — even the doctors — to think Colton just had the stomach flu. The mistake was not discovered until Colton's appendix ruptured, almost killing him.
  • Back from the Dead: According to the film and novel, Colton's spirit was taken out of his mortal body during his operation and he believed that he caught glimpses of the afterlife, and even describes to his parents about seeing his great grandfather and a sister that never got a chance to live. However the characters make repeated statements that he never did die during the operation.
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  • Based on a True Story: The story is reportedly based on a four year old's near death experience and trip to Heaven. However, it is heavily debated as to if this story actually happened and that said visions seemed too specific.
  • Berserk Button: Cassie is a normal, nice kid...until you make fun of her little brother and his trip to Heaven. After that, she'll punch you in the nose.
  • Butt-Monkey: Todd, Todd, Todd. He gets a severe baseball injury, plus severe kidney stones, plus his son's appendix ruptures. (He also had a cancer scare in the book but this was Adapted Out.) At one point, Todd yells at God in the hospital chapel because he feels like a Cosmic Plaything.
  • Children Are Innocent: While it's possible that Colton's father may as well was exaggerating details about Colton's trip to Heaven, Colton most certainly believed he truly did see Heaven.
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  • Divine Race Lift: Zigzagged. Jesus is kept mostly in shadow for Colton's memories of heaven, but the hand that we do see is clearly black. Later, Colton sees a painting of Jesus and says that that's what Jesus looks like...and the painting depicts him as white. Then again, Jesus had the same eye color as Colton's father, so maybe it was A Form You Are Comfortable With.
  • invokedDude, Not Funny!: Todd has this reaction to a firefighter friend who suggests Colton tell Jesus to put out all fires automatically and save him the work. Cassie has a similar and much less subdued reaction when a couple of boys in her class ask if Colton requested a new bike or magic pony from Jesus.
  • Dude Where Is My Respect: Everyone makes it explicitly clear they give all the credit to Colton's surgery and full recovery to God and the prayers, rather than, you know, the trained doctors and surgeons.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Implied in the book on two counts: first, when asked to describe the Holy Spirit from his NDE, Colton isn't able to do so beyond "He's kind of blue." Second, when asked to describe Satan, Colton becomes afraid and refuses to answer.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Ironically the father. He is presented with many different valid theories to explain his son's "memories of heaven", but he refuses to even consider any of them and fully believes what his son says is true.
  • Friend to All Children: Colton claimed that Jesus himself sent angels over to him to comfort him when he was frightened, and he even allowed him to sit on his lap when he was on his throne.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: In a G-rated fashion. Sonia and Todd are implied to get a little frisky on the couch one night. Later, Sonia persuades Todd to go to Denver by saying if he does, she will... (we don't hear what she whispers, but there is no way it isn't sexual).
  • Hollywood Atheist: The psychiatrist is portrayed as an atheist because her husband died. She later attends church at the end of the movie.
  • Informed Poverty: There is mention that the family is having financial problems. One look at their lives and you would expect finances being the last thing on their minds.
  • Near-Death Experience & Near-Death Clairvoyance: Colton has one and it leads to the other. Truth in Television as various degrees of Near-Death Clairvoyance are occasionally reported by Real Life Near Death Experiencers.
  • Ruptured Appendix: The entire reason Colton has a near-death experience in the first place.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Arguably necessary, considering we're dealing with a religious film in which one kid had a ruptured appendix, which results in vomit galore. There is, however, a very brief Vomit Indiscretion Shot when Colton's older sister Cassie has the stomach flu—we see orange gunk in the tub.

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