John H. Groberg, a middle class kid from Idaho Falls, crosses the Pacific to become a Mormon missionary in the remote and exotic Tongan island kingdom during the 1950's. He leaves behind a loving family and the true love of his life, Jean. Through letters and musings across the miles, John shares his humbling and sometimes hilarious adventures with "the girl back home", and her letters buoy up his spirits in difficult times. John must struggle to overcome language barriers, physical hardship and deep-rooted suspicion to earn the trust and love of the Tongan people he has come to serve. Throughout his adventure-filled three years on the islands, he discovers friends and wisdom in the most unlikely places. John H. Groberg's Tongan odyssey will change his life forever.
John Groberg (Christopher Gorham), the narrator and hero of "The Other Side of Heaven," is a Mormon missionary dispatched to the Tongan islands in the Pacific Ocean immediately after his high school graduation in the 1950's. Although the movie, inspired by Mr. Groberg's memoir "In the Eye of the Storm," is supposedly based on fact, any resemblances between its characters' behavior and real people are glancing. What sets this syrupy swatch of kitsch apart from other films peddling a dogmatic religious agenda is the serious money that obviously went into it. — Stephen Holden
2002-04-12 | Stephen Holden | Read the New York Times Review of The Other Side of Heaven