Australian Council on Children and the Media

Miracles from Heaven

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Not recommended under 10; PG to 13 (distressing scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Miracles from Heaven
  • a review of Miracles from Heaven completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 21 March 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not recommended due to distressing scenes and themes
Children aged 10-13 Parental guidance recommended due to distressing scenes and themes
Children aged 13 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Miracles from Heaven
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, some upsetting scenes
Length 109 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The Beam family consists of Christy (Jennifer Garner) and Kevin (Martin Henderson) and their three daughters. They are a close-knit family and regular churchgoers, but Christy’s faith is sorely tested when she discovers that her middle daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) has a rare and incurable, stomach disorder. This causes severe abdominal pain and frequent vomiting. Christy is relentless in her pursuit of a cure, and this involves an unorthodox visit to the leading paediatrician in the country, Dr. Nurko (Eugenio Derbez) at the Boston Children’s Hospital.

Nurko is unfailing in his support for sick children and suggests an experimental treatment for Anna that has nasty side effects but basically is her only chance. After several months of treatment in hospital, which puts added financial stress on the Beam family, Anna is allowed to go home. At home, her older sister Abbie (Brighton Sharbino) encourages Anna to climb a tree. When branch on which they are sitting on starts to crack,  Anna reaches for the trunk but falls headlong 30 feet down the hollow of the tree. It takes several hours for her to be rescued but amazingly they find her still alive. When she regains consciousness, Anna tells her parents that she had an ‘out of body’ experience and a conversation with God. Not only does Anna survive this fall, but is also miraculously cured of her illness, much to the puzzlement of the medical profession.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Incurable illness and death; sick child; religious beliefs; miraculous recovery

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence and accidental harm in this movie including:

  • The stress of Anna’s sickness causes Christy and Kevin to have several loud arguments.
  • Christy yells at a doctor in the hospital.
  • Anna falls headlong down the hollow of a tree

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Anna is seen vomiting and, on several occasions, writhing in pain and crying.
  • Anna has an enlarged stomach.
  • Anna has to be rushed to hospital in an ambulance as she’s in so much pain.
  • Other hospital patients are shown in the emergency ward with breathing apparatus and various tubes on their bodies.
  • Anna is seen going into the operation having a tube pushed up her nose. Both she and Christy are crying.
  • Anna is seen in the recovery room with tubes attached and connected to machines.
  • On one occasion Christy pulls the tube out of Anna’s nose, which looks quite painful
  • In the hospital there are many other children who are cancer patients and have bald heads.
  • Anna befriends a child called Haley who is dying from cancer and gives Haley her cross on a chain. We find out later that Haley dies.
  • At one point Anna says that she wants to die because she can’t stand the pain anymore.
  • Anna is shown unconscious at the base of the hollow in the tree. Emergency vehicles arrive including the fire brigade, ambulance and police, as well as the local news. This is a very dramatic scene.
  • Anna is shown being lifted out of the tree in a harness and in a lifeless state. She has blood on her face.

 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be upset by the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be upset by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Some younger children in this age group could also be upset by the above-mention scenes.

Product placement

Angry Birds

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

Very little – includes: “oh my God”; “sucks”

In a nutshell

Miracles from Heaven is an uplifting drama based on the true story of a ten-year-old girl who recovers from an apparently incurable disease. It is very intense, with scenes of illness and injury involving children which make it unsuitable for younger children. It is also a faith-based film, which might be problematic for some viewers.

The main messages from this movie are that faith can make all things possible and that persistence is rewarded.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • the importance of families
  • persistence and determination
  • having a positive outlook
  • selflessness

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss different belief systems and why some members of the congregation blamed the sins of Christy, Kevin or Anna as the reason Anna wasn’t being healed.

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