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Gangway for Miracles

Contributing columnist

If you’ve seen the trailer for Miracles from Heaven, you basically know the whole story.

This fact- and faith-based tearjerker, inspired by Christy Beam’s best-seller, details how Beam (played by Jennifer Garner) and her family dealt with the life-threatening intestinal disorder suffered by middle daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) and how it tested their faith.

Much of the film’s running time is taken up with Christy’s efforts to seek treatment for Anna after a series of misdiagnoses, then culminates with a potentially tragic incident wherein Anna falls into the deep hollow of a tree in the family’s front yard, whereupon she is rescued and her condition inexplicably corrects itself. Is it a miracle? The title spells it out, folks.

With a heavy score by Carlo Siliotto, Miracles from Heaven would be right at home as a Lifetime TV movie. There’s a lot of padding, including sappy montage sequences set to Christian songs, and a lengthy tour of Boston that veers into travelogue territory. When Anna explains that she had an out-of-body experience prior to being rescued, it’s time to cue the CGI visual effects – and turn up the score even more.

Still, things could have been worse – and much pushier. There are a few naysayers, some even in the Beam’s congregation, but by the end nobody’s saying nay anymore. In this kind of film, things do end happily ever after.

As the ailing Anna, Rogers betters her elders with a terrific, appealing performance that is easily the film’s best.

Garner is occasionally, but not inappropriately, high-pitched at times, while Martin Henderson, Brighton Sharbino and Courtney Fansler offer warm portrayals of Anna’s dad and sisters, respectively. Queen Latifah, however, is wasted as Angela, the world’s friendliest waitress, who takes Kristy and Anna on the aforementioned Beantown jaunt. Conversely, John Carroll Lynch nicely essays the role of a reverend that favors cool ties and brief sermons. Amen to that.

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