“90 Minutes in Heaven”
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for an intense car accident and graphic images
Running time: 121 minutes
Studio: Giving Films
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Traveling Pastor Don Piper was thinking about having his own congregation on his way home from a Christian convention when fate intervened in tragic fashion. His car was crushed so badly by a tractor trailer that he was declared dead right on the spot by first responders who couldn’t find a pulse.
Since the cops were in no hurry to extract him from the twisted wreckage, he was still lying there over an hour later, when a minister (Michael Harding) passing by the accident scene decided to stop and pray for the repose of his soul. But upon approaching the auto, instead of a corpse, lo and behold, the Good Samaritan found the supposedly deceased to be very much alive.
In fact, Pastor Piper was faintly singing a Gospel spiritual, despite his considerable loss of blood. A rescue team with the jaws of life was immediately summoned and he was soon extracted and rushed to the hospital in excruciating pain.
And although he would fight to survive for the sake of his wife (Kate Bosworth) and their three kids (Hudson Meek, Bobby Batson and Elizabeth Hunter), Don was actually torn over whether he really wanted to live or die. For, during his near-death experience on the side of the road, he’d briefly entered the proverbial Pearly Gates.
There, he not only experienced an unparalleled feeling of never-ending bliss, but enjoyed reunions with a number of dearly-departed loved ones, including his great-grandmother (Sallye McDougald Hooks) and a couple of childhood friends (Matthew Bauman and Trevor Allen Martin). By comparison, being back on Earth was relatively painful, given the 34 operations he needed to undergo over the next several months to fix torn muscles, disfigurement, broken bones and shattered disks.
Thanks to the power of prayer, Pastor Piper did ultimately recover. But rather than open his own church, he wrote a best-seller recounting his entering the Gates of Heaven as well as his subsequent resurrection. Directed by Michael Polish (The Astronaut Farmer) 90 Minutes in Heaven proves to be a pretty palatable modern parable, given that the title sort of serves as a spoiler. Of course, it helps tremendously to be a person a faith, though this is one Christian flick that has the potential to cut across demos.
A goner granted a miraculous reprieve by God ostensibly to let us all know that paradise really exists.