Sarah Knight Adamson and Jessica Aymond are both Members of the Chicago Film Critics Association

Chicago Film Critics Association

Film Rating Code:

★★★★ Outstanding Film- Run, don’t walk to the nearest movie theater.

★★★½ Excellent Film- Highly recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★★ Very Good Film- Recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★½ Good Film- Wait for the DVD, the film is still worth viewing.

★★ Wait for the DVD and proceed with caution.

★½ Wait for the DVD the film has major problems in most areas.

★ Can’t recommend the film.

Latest Reviews

Latest Interviews

Greg Kinnear Interview “Heaven is for Real”

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Director Randall Wallace (left) and Greg Kinnear on the set of TriStar Pictures’ HEAVEN IS FOR REAL. Photo Credit: Sony Pictures

Interview with Greg Kinnear: Heaven is for Real, A Nebraska Family’s Experience 

On April 9, 2014, Greg Kinnear and I met for an interview at Chicago’s Park Hyatt Hotel in a suite with a fabulous view of the Chicago River. Immediately, he was charming, funny and easy-going. I’ve admired his acting since his Academy Award nominated performance in As Good as it Gets (1997). He wore a long sleeve navy polo shirt with off-white relaxed fit slacks and New Balance tennis shoes. A regular guy for sure. He has a light shade of cobalt blue eyes and a contagious smile. Our interview time flew by in the blink of a (cobalt blue) eye. We chatted about his Alma Mater, the University of Arizona afterwards, of which he continues to visit.

Sarah Knight Adamson: Greg Kinnear, thank you so much for chatting with me today. I want to say congratulations on your performance in the film Heaven Is for Real. I thought you were absolutely tremendous in the role of Todd Burpo. What drew you to this role?

Greg Kinnear: It was probably Randy Wallace; he certainly was the first inkling that may be something was of interest here. I worked with him on We Were Soldiers (2002) and had a really had a great experience. He’s an excellent writer and director. He asked me if I’d heard of the book (of the same name). I had not [heard of the book] so he told me the story. I thought he had really found a very open and accessible story here with this family and what they went through with their little boy.

SKA:Yes. Connor Corum who plays your son, Colton, gives an amazing performance as well. My favorite scene is when you’re on the seesaw with him, and he’s telling you about heaven. He’s just so natural. Could you tell us a little bit about what it was like working with a five-year-old, I believe?

Read more…

Posted in Celebrity Interviews, Interviews

Heaven is for Real (PG) ★★★½

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Colton Burpo (Connor Corum) tells Todd (Greg Kinnear) he met Pops in TriStar Pictures’ HEAVEN IS FOR REAL. Photo Credit: Sony Pictures

Incredible Family Story Comes to the Big Screen

The New York Times best-selling book Heaven is for Real by Nebraska Pastor Todd Burpo opens on the big screen this coming Wednesday before Easter. Oscar nominee Greg Kinnear stars as pastor Todd Burpo whose four-year-old, angelic looking son, Colton (Connor Corum), claims to have visited heaven during a near-death experience. How does the film measure up to the book? I can’t tell you that, as I haven’t read the book, but I can tell you the film is worth seeing for it’s family centered themes, realistic performances and breathtaking cinematography. In short, the film stands on its own merit.

After surviving a burst appendix at age four, Colton tells his dad that during his surgery he rose above his hospital bed and saw he and his mom in separate rooms of the hospital. He also said that he went to heaven where he met Jesus, saw singing angels and met relatives that he’s never met before (his grandfather and his sister who died in his mother’s womb).

The film explores the family’s courage to share their son’s astonishing experience with the world, while providing the raw emotions that occurred during this time. The event happened in 2003 when Colton was two months shy of his four-year-old birthday. He told his parents about his visit to heaven several months after his recovery. As pastor of the Crossroads Wesleyan Church in Imperial, Nebraska, Burpo made the decision to go public with the story and began telling his church parishioners of Colton’s story. His book was published in 2010.

Kelly Reilly (Sherlock Holmes, 2009) co-stars as Sonja Burpo, a loving wife, church choir director and devoted mother. She worries about her family’s finances as the bills keep piling up and Todd’s garage door repair business receives payments in the form of ‘in kind’ by some of his clients.

Pastor Burpo is a member of the volunteer fire department and he coaches the high school wrestling team, which is somewhat typical for a small town as people usually help out in many different arenas. He’s having an unusually bad year as he breaks his leg during a baseball game and has a severely painful case of kidney stones. His stress levels are at the brink due to the families mounting bills and his friend, local banker (Thomas Haden Church) and church board member, can’t convince him to accept a loan.

The real Midwest family that is portrayed here is somewhat typical of family life of today. Viewers will identify with this young family’s struggle to keep afloat and maintain optimistic decorum during such difficult financial times. Fortunately, we are privy to how the couple upholds passion, faith and courage in their marriage.

An interesting occurrence happens when Todd begins to believe Colton’s spiritual escapade. He begins questioning his own faith and starts searching for answers, even to the extent of visiting a psychology professor for scientific answers. What we do eventually see is Todd’s undeniable faith in his son’s story, but more doubts and problems occur when he begins preaching about the event in church.

Several church members become concerned that their community will become a circus once word gets out to the media. Others are worried that their church may be taking on too much. Margo Martindale (August: Osage County, 2013) gives a memorable performance as a church board member and a mother suffering quietly from the death of her military son. She proposes that their church might need to find a new minister.

Director Randall Wallace of Dances with Wolves (1990) fame, shares screenplay credit with Chris Parker. The chemistry between Kinnear and his film wife, Reilly helps the film tremendously. Their performances are believable and moving. Connor Corum is perfectly cast as Colton; he’s a bright-eyed natural who just may steal your heart.

The script stumbles a few times and is a bit too wordy, but the strong acting makes up for it. This is a feel-good family film that just may cause you to shed a tear or two−mainly because of the emotional topics that are presented. What I especially appreciated was that fact that ‘Heaven’ is not preachy; plain and simple it’s one family’s incredible account. It makes no claims, nor tries to steer you in one direction or the other. In the end, the choice to believe is yours.

Bottom-Line? This is a relevant, suitable family film for the approaching Easter holiday with a strong believable cast and beautiful cinematography. I’d say middle school-age children should be fine with the film.

Credits: Directed by Randall Wallace; Written by Randall Wallace and Chris Parker

Studio: Sony Pictures

Run Time: 100 minutes

Sarah Knight Adamson ©April 15, 2014

Posted in Movies 2014, Reviews

Draft Day (PG-13) ★★½

Kevin Costner stars in "Draft Day." Photo credit: Summit Entertainment.

Jennifer Garner, Kevin Costner and Denis Leary star in “Draft Day.” Photo credit: Summit Entertainment.

Draft Day Loses its Footing

The NFL has grown beyond a mere sport into a multi-billion dollar institution. The League leaves its footprint on just about everything – websites, commercials, merchandise, online gaming, magazines etc. It’s shocking that it took this long to make a movie about its back office dealings.

In anticipation for next month’s NFL draft, audiences can try and quench their NFL fix with Draft Day, the fictional drama from veteran director Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, 1984; No Strings Attached, 2011).

Sonny Weaver (Kevin Costner, Man of Steel, 2013), is the GM of the Cleveland Browns and wants to save football in a city packed with die-hard fans that are in need of hope. On draft day, after the Brown’s owner (Frank Langella, Noah 2014) instructs Weaver to ‘make a splash,’ he essentially trades his future away to the Seattle Seahawks for the number one pick to potentially get a new star quarterback. However, after making the deal, buyer’s remorse ensues as he’s unsure if that was the right move and gets pressured from other people within the organization. While trying to decide his next move, hopeful players like Vontae Mack (Chadwick Boseman, 42, 2013) ring him up to express their desire to be a Brown while the team owner has essentially threatened to fire Weaver should he fail to field a winning team. Weaver must quickly decide if he should listen to the scouts, agents, and players in his ear pushing their own agenda or trust his gut feeling, even if it may not be the most popular path. Read more…

Posted in Movies 2014, Reviews

★Special Review★ 5 Year Anninversary of Sarah’s Radio Reviews on Hollywood 360! Muppets Most Wanted (PG) ★★★

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Muppets Most Wanted Poster Photo Credit: Disney

Click Here to listen to Sarah Knight Adamson’s Hollywood 360 Radio Podcast:

Posted in Film Review Podcast Archives, Movies 2014, Radio Podcasts

Spider-Man in Chicago for Earth Hour 2014!

Chicago is always an exciting place to be, whether you are checking out blues music and festivals, sporting events, cutting-edge cuisine or spending a day at the beach. It’s no wonder that Chicago was chosen by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as the 2014 Earth Hour Capital. The Windy City was selected after a yearlong competition and will receive a $30,000 grant from the World Wildlife Fund to further develop sustainability programs.

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Earth Hour is observed on March 29 from 8:30 – 9:30PM (local times) in nearly 150 countries by turning off all of the lights. As the 2014 Earth Hour Capital Chicago got a special guest to help save the planet. On March 29, 2014 at the Chicago Cultural Center Spider-Man helped flip the ceremonial switch and unveiled a glow-in-the-dark painting by Chicago artist ZORE64. The original artwork was inspired by Earth Hour’s mission to raise awareness of the impact humans, both with super powers and without, have on the environment. Read more…

Posted in Events, Uncategorized

Noah (PG-13) ★★½

Noah

Russell Crowe stars as Noah, Jennifer Connely as Naameh, Emma Watson as Lla, Logan Lerman as Shem, Douglas Booth as Shem Photo Credit: Paramount

Listen to Sarah Knight Adamson’s Radio Review on Hollywood 360 Network, Sat. evenings 10:06 CST in Chicago WINDam560

Posted in Film Review Podcast Archives, Hollywood 360, Movies 2014, Radio Podcasts, Reviews

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