Texas preteen Annabel "Anna" Beam made headlines in 2011 when she emerged without a scratch after falling 30 feet into the hollowed-out trunk of a tree she'd been climbing. What's more, the chronic disease that had plagued her since she was 5 had disappeared.

Did God intervene, asks Miracles from Heaven, a family film about the role of faith in everyday life based on the best-selling 2015 memoir by Anna's mother, Christy.

The filmmakers' answer is a resounding, unapologetic, unambiguous yes.

Made for the evangelical Christian market, Miracles from Heaven is the latest release from Sony Pictures' faith-based label, Affirm Films, which has enjoyed big box office numbers with War Room and Risen. The film is surprisingly likable, if entirely predictable and sappy.

Jennifer Garner sports feathered hair and a sexy drawl as Christy, a wife and mother who lives in a perfect house on a lovely, verdant little ranch. Her husband, Kevin (New Zealand TV actor Martin Henderson), is a country vet who brings home stray pups, to the ire of his wife and the delight of clever 12-year-old Anna (The Whispers' Kylie Rogers).

The Beams regularly attend services at an evangelical megachurch, where they rock out to the stylings of the house band and laugh out loud at the gentle jokes of Pastor Scott (John Carroll Lynch).

It all seems too good to be true.

And, sure enough, when Anna comes down with a mysterious stomach pain, it turns out to be an incurable disorder that renders her unable to digest food.

Kevin remains upbeat: God will sort everything out, he assures his family. All they need is faith. Christy is not so sure. She plunges into despair and a crisis of belief.

The film is careful to dismiss reductive interpretations of Christianity. Pastor Scott assures Christy that God doesn't play tit-for-tat, making miracles happen because you behave well. And he doesn't punish you and your children with sickness and pain if you sin.

Well-intentioned if cloying, Miracles from Heaven has an appealing cast and an accessible take on spirituality. It's likely to do the same brisk box office as its forebears.




Miracles from Heaven **1/2 (out of four stars)

Directed by Patricia Riggen. With Jennifer Garner, Kylie Rogers, Martin Henderson, Queen Latifah. Distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing.

Running time: 1 hour, 49 mins.

Parent's guide: PG (thematic material, including accident, medical images)

Playing at: Area theaters.