Monday, April 25, 2016

Miracles From Heaven (2016)

Barreling on out of Passover weekend, the competition for this year's Easter winner—a category that has been around how long now?—looks to be pretty tight between Miracles From Heaven and God's Not Dead 2. Admittedly ignorant of this Christian drama genre, apocalyptic or otherwise, I was most surprised, and shouldn't have been, that a family-friendly movie would attract families, even on a Tuesday morning. Thus I found myself enclosed in a dark room with a young couple and their babbling 2-year-old, along with a handful of mild-mannered hanky-wringers, for the duration. To be clear, every single minute. Not screechy crying, thank God, but loud nonstop babbling, occasionally loosed and roaming about the theater: loballoballoballob. The story in the movie (based on true events, predictably) is about an upstanding white exurban family in Texas, a husband, wife, and their three daughters, who worship weekly at a megachurch. Naturally enough for me, I suppose, I found the glowing depiction of the megachurch lifestyle creepy. But in my defense I'd like to note that the actor playing the church pastor, John Carroll Lynch, previously played not only John Wayne Gacy in the FX series American Horror Story, but also the putative Zodiac killer in Zodiac. Anyway, loballoballoballob, one day one of the daughters becomes gravely ill with a rare and incurable condition. Now's the time to hoist the spoiler flag! The rhythms of this movie are familiar, more or less one standard template in the latter-day "woman's picture" fare found on the Lifetime channel: hysterical mother fighting for the life of a loved one in the face of bureaucratic indifference and mysterious disease. Jennifer Garner as Christy Beam, that very mother, is most convincing to me when she loses her faith, loballoballoballob. But I'm sure that's just me. I'm more or less a nonbeliever, so those scenes looked to me like someone coming to her senses, and seemed most natural. As for Garner, there's a news story presently circulating that this role brought her to Christ. I suppose it's possible, but let's give this conversion a few more months. The movie is still playing in theaters for crying out loud. Loballoballoballob. The ending, not surprisingly, bludgeons one nearly senseless with a thorough beatdown of hokum, which I was actually enjoying pretty well, or thought I might be, if that goddam kid would just shut the fuck up. But at that point the story is also hurtling toward the unbelievable with the momentum of jet aircraft. (As I've said elsewhere, "based on true events" almost always equates directly to the unbelievable.) I finally had to flee the theater abruptly when the end credits featured footage and images of the real Beam family. Somehow that was finally too much for me. Bring a hanky if you must see this one, because it works hard to make you use it. Fortunately for me, God sent a kid to distract me from falling into that trap, though I'm pretty sure my eyes swam and I sniffled once or twice. You can't be too careful with these Easter movies.

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