The following is a review of the movie Fireproof that I emailed out to a group of friends shortly after I saw the movie in the theater.
September 29, 2008
My wife and I did something on Friday that's far too rare for us; we got a babysitter and headed to the movies.
We saw "Fireproof." This was written and directed by the guys who put together "Facing the Giants" and "Flywheel." Some have criticized those movies as having amateurish production quality, but "Fireproof" is a big step up in all aspects of quality: acting, writing, editing, characterization, cinematography, and most important, the message!
About halfway through the movie I leaned over to Shelby, nudged her and whispered, "This movie is important." Please let me explain why I believe this is an IMPORTANT movie.
It stars Kirk Cameron as a well-respected Firefighter. That is, respected by everyone except his wife, Catherine. And it's apparent why. To her he's rude, insensitive, and unsupportive. He's also addicted to pornography on the Internet and it's obvious that Catherine knows about it. Catherine is also contributing to the problems at home. She is cold, nagging, and unkind. She also has been flirting with another man where she works and is on the verge of an affair.
I believe there are at least six reasons why this movie is more than merely entertaining, but important as well:
1) Marriage takes work.
This movie makes it clear that marriage takes work, and that's a truth that does not come out of our culture today. Our culture says "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Rubbish. The Bible says that love means sacrificially giving of yourself for another. And this movie makes that very clear.
One of the easiest things to do in the whole world is to date or even be engaged. You're naturally motivated to study your boyfriend/girlfriend, to be interested in what he/she is interested in. To pay compliments. To be encouraging. To overlook faults. But then when you get married, often you experience "buyer's remorse" and the faults you once overlooked now drive you crazy. You no longer take the time to invest in your relationship. And you slowly drift apart.
2) Marriages can slowly fall apart as a result of small bad choices.
While marriages can certainly fall apart due to disastrous events: an affair, a bankruptcy, et cetera, this movie makes the point that Kirk and his wife did not get like this overnight. It took years of bad decisions and laziness to get them to this point.
I'm so glad they used the song by Casting Crowns called "Slow Fade" in this movie as the message of that song fits so well with the plot. Marriages don't crumble in a day. You can watch the music video for that song at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-8SYA6rfbs.
3) Divorce might seem like the solution but it ultimately scars both parties.
Divorce is exactly what both characters want in this movie. Kirk's character tells his father, "It's over, Dad. We're getting divorced."
There is a powerful scene where one of Kirk's coworkers shares his own experience of divorce and what it did to him.
4) This movie shows what Biblical love looks like.
It accomplishes this through a book that Kirk's dad gives to his son. His dad asks him to hold off the divorce for 40 days. He has a challenge for his son. It's called "The Love Dare," a book that has one challenge for you to do every day for 40 days. The first one: no matter how annoyed you get with your wife, don't say anything negative to her. "Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger" (James 1:19).
The next day, there was a new challenge. In addition to not saying anything negative, do a small nice thing for your wife. Something you don't normally do. Maybe do dishes if you don't usually. Kirk's character decides to make her coffee.
Each day there is a new challenge that teaches Kirk's character that loving unconditionally is an action, not a feeling. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that the writers of this movie are familiar with the Biblical concept of Nouthetic Counseling (http://www.nanc.org). This is advocated by Christians such as John MacArthur and Jay Adams, to name a few. The concepts of "The Love Dare" seem to come right out of their teachings and they're rock-solid Biblical!
5) This movie has a clear Gospel presentation.
We have Kirk's character going out of his way to change his behavior and be nice to his wife. And how did Catherine respond? As cold as ice! She suspected he was just being nice so she would have her lawyers go easy on him in the divorce.
And that leads to the most powerful message in the movie! Kirk Cameron's character is about 20 days into the "dare" and is discouraged that it's not working. He asks his dad how someone is supposed to love somebody when despite the nice things and sacrifices you do, they respond with rudeness, disrespect, harsh words, and downright rejection.
The dad tells his son that that is EXACTLY how he treats God!
"No, dad," he says. He insists he's a good guy. He pulls kids out of burning buildings! He's been faithful to Catherine. His father showed him that despite those good things, he still rejects God and has broken God's commands. Yet God demonstrated His love in the cross. Wow - powerfully done. Kirk's character gets saved and learned the Biblical understanding of love. With this, he continued to try to pursue his wife, even though she continued to reject him.
For those of you who are familiar with the teachings of Kirk's real-life ministry, "The Way of the Master," here's an "inside joke" for you. I'm aghast that Kirk's dad didn't say the phrase "Do you consider yourself to be a good person?" I didn't think you COULD get saved without someone saying those exact words!!! Okay, end of "inside joke." If you didn't get it, then go to http://www.wayofthemaster.com and get the "Basic Training Course." You won't regret it!
6) This movie addresses important issues that we often try to avoid, like adultery, pornography, and bitterness.
There's a lot more to this movie. There are many laugh-out-loud moments. And there are many tearful moments. This movie addresses adultery, divorce, pornography, integrity, bitterness, and addresses each of these so very well. More than once I had to ask Shelby to pass me the tissue.
It's not a perfect movie by any means. It's not as polished as a Hollywood blockbuster with a 100 million dollar budget. And there were a couple of cliches here and there that in my opinion could have been cut. But those minor points pale in comparison to the importance and professionalism of this wonderful movie.
This is a movie for saved people. This is a movie for unsaved people. This is a movie for engaged people. This is a movie for married couples having trouble (and I know there are more in this category than we'd all like to admit.)
I knew this movie would be out on DVD in less than a year, but I wanted to go see it in the theater because of the message it sends to Hollywood. I wanted to tell Hollywood that there is a market for tasteful movies! This movie had no nudity. No swearing. No blasphemy. No sexual innuendo. Unheard of today! If it does well in the box office, it will send a message to Hollywood.
I checked boxofficemojo.com today, a website that tracks how well movies do, and despite being a low-budget Christian movie only released on a paltry 839 screens, "Fireproof" was the #3 movie in the country on Friday and #4 for the whole weekend! Praise God for that! It already has made 13X what it cost to make, since just about everyone involved volunteered their time and made the movie for free.
One more thing about Kirk Cameron... at the end of the movie, his character kisses his wife, but Kirk has a strict moral code not to ever kiss anybody but his real-life wife. So what did they do? They flew in his real-life wife, put a wig on her, and filmed the scene silhouetted to make it appear that he was kissing his onscreen wife. How cool is that?!?! (Of course Shelby noticed that his on-screen wife looked a little shorter during the kissing scene! Can't get anything past Shelby!!!)
I know most of you know that I'm "in the can" for Kirk Cameron and his "Way of the Master" ministry, so I realize I might not be the most objective reviewer, but even so, despite my bias, I stand behind my assessment that this is an important film.
We saw it in a theater that was packed, and everyone applauded at the end. And rightfully so. I think you'll applaud too.
If you can, please support it by seeing it at the theater. If money is tight, at least rent or buy the DVD when it comes out.
You can learn more about the movie and find a theater near you at http://www.fireproofthemovie.com.
At the very least keep this movie in mind for when you're discipling somebody who is having trouble in marriage. It sadly won't take long for you to find such a person.
I hope this review has been a blessing to you, and I hope you are as blessed as Shelby and I were by "Fireproof." Please feel free to forward this review on to whoever you think would like it.
God bless you!
in Christ and for His glory,
10 out of 10 people die.
Are you ready?