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90 Minutes in Heaven

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for intense accident and injury images.

Reviewed by: Karen C. Flores

Better than Average, but not recommended
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens Family
Faith-based Drama Adapation
2 hr.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 11, 2015 (wide)
DVD: December 1, 2015
Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Samuel Goldwyn Films

horrific car accidents

prayer and hope

Sola Scriptura

Is the Bible truly the final authority in all matters of faith? Answer

What did the Early Church believe about the authority of Scripture? Answer

Is “Sola Scriptura” a biblical or a man-made concept? Answer

Issue of pain and suffering

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

ORIGIN OF BAD—How did bad things come about? Answer

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer

Featuring: Hayden ChristensenDon Piper
Kate BosworthEva Piper
Hudson Meek … Chris Piper
Bobby Batson … Joe Piper
Elizabeth Hunter … Nicole Piper
David Clyde Carr … Eva's Dad
Catherine Carlen … Eva's Mom
Dwight Yoakam
Michael W. Smith … Cliff McArdle
See all »
Director: Michael Polish—“The Astronaut Farmer” (2007)
Producer: Family Christian Entertainment (FCE), sister company of Family Christian Stores
Emmett/Furla Films
Giving Films
See all »
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films

This film is based on a bestselling book called 90 Minutes in Heaven (7 million copies sold). While returning home from a minister’s conference, Baptist Pastor Don Piper (Hayden Christensen) gets hit by a semi-truck that swerved into his lane. He is believed to be dead by the rescue workers at the scene. After another pastor prays over him, Pastor Don comes alive. The remainder of the picture tells of Pastor Piper’s struggle for the will to live, because he suffers excruciating pain. In the meantime, the film also shows the difficulties his wife, Eva (Kate Bosworth), suffers, because all the burdens of taking care of the family rests on her shoulders. The story only spends about five minutes talking about Don’s supposed experience in heaven.

I found this film tedious to watch. I feel that the movie should be retitled “Nine Months in the Hospital.” It is quite laborious to sit through about 90 minutes of hospital footage. I watched Don Piper lying on a hospital bed moaning and groaning in pain. The nurse checks his vital signs and makes sure he uses his urinal. The doctors take him for more tests. He undergoes many surgeries due to his severely mangled body.

On the inspirational side, the movie shows that through the prayer support of his beloved wife, children, and friends, Don learns how to love and accept help from others. Throughout this film, he keeps questioning God, “Why did you keep me here to suffer?” Then, an old friend goes to the hospital and tells Don that he will have different churches pray for him. Don rejects the blessings of being alive, but his friend refuse to give up hope. It makes me think of the Biblical story of the paralyzed man whose four friends dig a hole in the roof and lower him in front of Jesus’ feet for him to be healed. Likewise, the faith of his friends pulls Don through the difficulties.

This film has no nudity, no sex, and the violence is mild. My caution is the scene where Don is hit by the semi-truck. The part where Pastor Piper is wheeled into the hospital is strong also. He is bloody and bruised. I found it hard to watch, but I was crying a lot in those sections. Parents would have to assess whether their young child can handle such scenes. My recommendation is ages 10 and up. Overall, I left the movie inspired with a sense of hope.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

Did Don Piper really go to Heaven? Theologian and author Dr. John MacArthur says, “Scripture definitively says that people do not go to heaven and come back: ‘Who has ascended to heaven and come down?’ (Proverbs 30:4). Answer: ‘No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man’ (John 3:13, emphasis added). All the accounts of heaven in Scripture are VISIONS, not journeys taken by dead people. And even visions of heaven are very, very rare in Scripture. You can count them all on one hand.”

Four biblical authors had visions of heaven—not near-death experiences. Isaiah and Ezekiel (Old Testament prophets) and Paul and John (New Testament apostles) all had such visions. Two other biblical figures—Micaiah and Stephen—got glimpses of heaven, but what they saw is merely mentioned, not described (2 Chronicles 18:18; Acts 7:55).

Only three of these men later wrote about what they saw—and the details they gave were comparatively sparse (Isaiah 6:1–4; Ezekiel 1, 10; Revelation 4–6). All of them focused properly on God’s glory. They also mentioned their own fear and shame in the presence of such glory. They had nothing to say about the mundane features that are so prominent in modern tales about heaven (things like picnics, games, juvenile attractions, familiar faces, odd conversations, and so on). Paul gave no actual description of heaven but simply said what he saw would be unlawful to utter. In short, the biblical descriptions of heaven could hardly be any more different from today’s fanciful stories about heaven.

Lazarus of Bethany fell ill and died, and his body lay decaying in a tomb for four days until Jesus raised him (John 11:17). A whole chapter in John’s Gospel is devoted to the story of how Jesus brought him back from the dead. But there’s not a hint or a whisper anywhere in Scripture about what happened to Lazarus’s soul in that four-day interim. The same thing is true of every person in Scripture who was ever brought back from the dead, beginning with the widow’s son whom Elijah raised in 1 Kings 17:17–24 and culminating with Eutychus, who was healed by Paul in Acts 20:9–12. Not one biblical person ever gave any recorded account of his or her postmortem experience in the realm of departed souls.

The New Testament adds much to our understanding of heaven (and hell), but we are still not permitted to add our own subjective ideas and experience-based conclusions to what God has specifically revealed through His inerrant Word. Indeed, we are forbidden in all spiritual matters to go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6).

Those who demand to know more than Scripture tells us about heaven are sinning: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29). The limits of our curiosity are thus established by the boundary of biblical revelation. …What God has revealed in Scripture is the only legitimate place to get a clear understanding of the heavenly kingdom. God’s written Word does in fact give us a remarkably full and clear picture of heaven and the spiritual realm. But the Bible still leaves many questions unanswered.

We need to accept the boundaries God Himself has put on what He has revealed.

See the following helpful articles…

Article: Christian Research Institute, “From Heaven to Earth with a Story that Sells” by Warren Nozaki

Tim Challies book review: 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life

“Spiritual Shipwreck of the Word-Faith Movement” by Justin Peters (discusses Don Piper)

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—“90 Minutes in Heaven” is an uplifting story about pastor Don Piper, played by Hayden Christensen, who dies in a horrible car crash and goes to heaven. It is ironic that the actor who played Vader became a Vicar, or the “Chosen One” became “Chosen” (Matt. 22:14). The acting was a little flat for most of the film, particularly Kate Bosworth’s performance as Eva Piper, Don’s wife; her performance is rather hollow.

However, in contrast, Hayden Christenson’s performance as Pastor Don Piper is good, and the ending is memorable, with Don talking to a youth who has suffered a similar injury. On a moviemaking quality standpoint, I felt this was better than “War Room,” because it actually has some elements of hardship that remain, and the happily-ever-after is connected to the suffering, rather than the final absence of suffering. Don receives a calling from Christ through his suffering, but he has to endure the suffering to get it. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
Jeff G., age 26 (USA)
Positive—This story is about a pastor (yes, he’s human, too) recovering from a horrific accident. Yes, he gets angry, frustrated and depressed. Glad they kept with the events and not try to Hollywood it. The great amazing gift is from his experience. The audience clapped after this show ended. Caution, it is probably not a good idea to bring small children. He goes through a lot of pain and trauma recovering from this accident. If you’re expecting the movie to be what it is like in Heaven, this is not the movie for you.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Brenda, age 51 (USA)
Positive—Not fast paced, I’ll grant, but inspirational. By that, I mean, it will challenge you. A truly moving scene is the near the end in a restaurant. That should make you watch it clear through.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Dale Robinson, age 66 (USA)
Negative—This movie was not very good. The acting was wooden, and the script was terrible. The subject was off base theologically. The best acting was by Fred Thompson. The lead actor wasn’t very good and looked angry about 90% of the time in the movie. Not a very good witness at all. If anyone is curious about the movie, rent it when it comes out. Not worth the price of a movie ticket.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 1½
Wayne, age 60 (USA)

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