Movie review: Fireproof

posted at 6:37 pm on November 9, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Earlier today, I took my wife to see Fireproof, a movie produced with an explicitly Christian message about marriage and faith.  Kirk Cameron has focused more on Christian evangelization than on his film career, but does both as a self-centered firefighter with a marriage on the rocks. Our big question: can a theatrical film succeed in delivering a message while still entertaining its audience?

The story behind the film is certainly intriguing.  Fireproof was produced by Sherwood Baptist Church in Georgia, which used volunteers in most of the behind-the-scenes work.  With the exception of an eight-person team of professional filmmakers, most of the effort came from volunteers.  That would normally set expectations much closer to Plan 9 From Outer Space than Citizen Kane.

Surprisingly, the film was technically competent.  It may have had a Lifetime Movie of the Week feel, especially in the first half of the movie, but audiences won’t find anything distracting as they did with Thèrese.  The Lifetime feel includes some of the dialogue and dramatic staging, especially in the first half.  The conversations feel forced, and with some of the interactions with the supporting characters, gets formulaic and artificial.

However, Fireproof improves, especially in the second half, as the story focuses more on Cameron and Erin Bethea.  The Holts are heading to a divorce, mostly through the destructive actions of Caleb (Cameron), a firefighter who pays more attention to his computer than his wife.  She feels rejected as he spends his days looking at Internet porn and saving his money for a boat.  They’re more roommates than a marriage, arguing over who has to pay for what.  She’s starting to become more receptive to flirting from a young doctor where she works.  Until Caleb’s father intervenes, the only question is whether the lawyers will get rich off the split.

In the end, the movie works because of Cameron and Bethea.  Audiences will connect with both, and Cameron especially gives a good performance as he eventually discovers how destructive he has been.  Those who have been through rockiness in their own marriages will recognize the struggles, the lost trust, and the difficult recovery in their relationships.

The movie relies heavily on Christian themes.  Those who feel uncomfortable with explicitly religious messages will not enjoy Fireproof.  It’s not going to win any Academy Awards, either, but it’s not bad at all, and better than a lot of what appears in the cinema.  Those who want to see theaters featuring Christian values and uplifting stories of faith, forgiveness, and love should support Fireproof before it disappears from the big screen.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

These days you are more likely to see a 50 million dollar movie make 10 million.
This movie was made for $500K and has made almost 30 million. They haven’t increased the number of theaters showing it (opened at 839, now at 872) so it has been a strong “with legs” movie.
The story is excellent – as is it’s message. But of course the acting is not, because for a serious actor to be in this type of film, well, it would end their career.
It goes to show that it isn’t just the headliners that make money.
Go see it.

JeffinOrlando on November 9, 2008 at 9:02 PM

Speaking of supporting clean movies, here’s how you can find out which ones are worth supporting: go to
http://www.pluggedinonline.com/movies/
before you go to the cinema.

jgapinoy on November 9, 2008 at 9:06 PM

Kevin, it’s a kinda hi-tech way of making yourself accountable to other men regarding where you go online. It gets its name from the Biblical patriarch Job, who said,

I have made a covenant with my eyes, not to look at a young woman with lust.
jgapinoy on November 9, 2008 at 8:49 PM

Thanks will check it out. Time to sign off, have to get up early.

Kevin in Southern Illinois on November 9, 2008 at 9:07 PM

You need to watch images of “enhanced” people getting it on to add fantasy to your marriage.

Quite honestly, if your imagination needs the ‘prompting’ of porn, then you need to work a bit better at your imagination.

BTW – there are many, MANY marriages that get along just fine thank-you-very-much WITHOUT porn.

And that INCLUDES having a pretty steamy sex life.

Religious_Zealot on November 9, 2008 at 9:07 PM

You DON”T need to watch images of “enhanced” people…

PIMF

Religious_Zealot on November 9, 2008 at 9:08 PM

sammypants on November 9, 2008 at 8:45 PM

For a thorough discussion of the topic, I’d recommend Lewis’ books The Abolition of Man and The Four Loves. As I tend to learn better through socratic method, I believe Lewis discussed the topic best through the story in the third book in the Space trilogy, That Hideous Strength.

Equality of the sexes before the law is good and proper; yet in relationships, equality as such spawns a two-headed beast. The problem, IMHO, comes from our having a Western notion of equality: in that if it is not “equal”, it must be “bad”. In relationships, as per the Biblical goal, not only are the couple not equal, but each person is also responsible for looking after the other, in the ways in which each are gifted.

Two examples come to mind:

* The Biblical admonition from Paul to men was to “love your wife as Christ loved the Church, and gave his life for it” (paraphrased). Women are not called to “give” themselves to their husbands in this way, but rather, to “duck” when hard times come (see my post about this; if you want to learn more about Hebrew my source was Dr. Karl Coke, Restoration Ministries, when I lived in Charlotte NC).

* Another example comes from how women are gifted towards emotion and intuition. I have heard many examples of where a wife’s intuition, listened to and taken as counsel by the husband, saved the husband from getting himself into a mess that seemed logically correct.

I used to tell friends that the best analogy of a marriage was the circle of the ring: no one point on the ring is greater than the other, and it takes both sides of the ring to complete it and make it truly whole. Perhaps the miracle of marriage, as God intended, is that it joins two people who are whole in their own right, into a union that is greater than the sum of its parts.

So, to sum up Paul’s admonitions:

* the husband gives (Ephesians 5:25);
* the wife ducks (Ephesians 5:22);
* the couple focuses on seeking out their children’s giftedness (see Proverbs 22:6) and does not thwart it (Ephesians 6:4)

Oh, and for kicks: when Job was put through his trials, and in the middle of it his wife declared, “curse God and die”, note that in the end of the story not only was his wife exempt from any admonition to seek forgiveness, but she was also blessed with more children. Job, however, had to seek forgiveness for his own actions, and for the actions of his “friends” (see Job 42).

Wanderlust on November 9, 2008 at 9:14 PM

Fireproof was released two weeks before An American Carol, yet it’s still at #14 while Carol has already dropped to #59. Both expected to attract conservatives. The reason? Carol is dirty.

jgapinoy on November 9, 2008 at 8:55 PM

I haven’t seen Fireproof, but saw Carol, and it was pretty heavy-handed. There were a few chuckles (Dennis Hopper blasting ACLU zombies), there were some absolutely cringe-worthy parts (the whole cotton-plantation scene – egad!).

Fallen Sparrow on November 9, 2008 at 9:32 PM

Why is internet porn a threat to your marriage? The guy who is forced to pretend his spouse is the only person they’ll ever find attractive is a guy who’s eventually going to cheat on his wife. Why do conservatives insist on dishonesty within a relationship. Faithfulness is not lying and saying you would never want o sleep with someone else. Faithfulness is REFRAINING from acting on those desires. Internet porn is one of the better ways to facilitate the difficulty of monogamy. God..no pun intended.

DeathToMediaHacks on November 9, 2008 at 7:00 PM

Refraining to act on your lustful desires is not enough. Its more difficult than that – you have to put those thoughts out of your mind. Mental discipline would be important even if pornography was not free and readily available for anyone with an internet connection.

aengus on November 9, 2008 at 9:38 PM

FWIW, Internet Porn had a part in ending my marriage. As far as I’m concerned, nothing positive can come from viewing that garbage.

surrounded on November 9, 2008 at 9:38 PM

DeathtoMediaHacks:

Why is internet porn a threat to your marriage? The guy who is forced to pretend his spouse is the only person they’ll ever find attractive is a guy who’s eventually going to cheat on his wife.

Porn is like having multiple fantasy mistresses you spend real time with, and sometimes even real money on. All sex all the time…no messy reality. (Natural endorphins, but artificially stimulated, leading to the usual additive progression). Most real women don’t care for that kind of competition, or so I’ve heard.

Confutus on November 9, 2008 at 9:39 PM

I’m not Christian, but it’s quite nice to see a movie playing on pro-marriage themes, instead of the follow-your-lust nonsense of many films.

I’ll see it.

baruchadam on November 9, 2008 at 9:50 PM

Your woman yearns to be ‘enough for you’…she wants to be your princess. She doesn’t want to share you…not even with an image on a screen.

*eyeroll*
My woman doesn’t “yearn” for things. She expresses her desires and I’m unthreatened by them. She doesn’t ACT on her interest in other guys, because we’ve promised to be monogamous. But I could care less if she yearns for, desires, or is attracted to any number of people in real life or on the screen. The difference between us and the fundamentalists is that I TRUST my partner to be faithful without placing mental shacks on her thoughts and she feels the same for me. Trust. Try it out.

DeathToMediaHacks on November 9, 2008 at 9:50 PM

We saw the movie several weeks ago. As someone whose marriage fell upon hard times some years back, parts of it were difficult to watch (relive). But it has the requisite happy ending. Even better, I’ve heard of at least one marriage (a friend’s coworker) that may be saved as a result of the movie. After watching the movie, the couple decided to make one more attempt to save their marriage; they are now in counseling.

As for why it is “always” the man’s obligation to fix these things in movies — I don’t want to spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it. Go see it, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

CJ on November 9, 2008 at 9:56 PM

yeah you’re another case in point… brilliant argument there… maybe you should be in his next movie…

Kaptain Amerika on November 9, 2008 at 7:48 PM

Wasn’t making an argument, but then again, neither were you. I was making a judgment, just like you. Only mine was correct, and yours was not.

Jerkoff.

fossten on November 9, 2008 at 10:16 PM

*eyeroll*
My woman doesn’t “yearn” for things. She expresses her desires and I’m unthreatened by them. She doesn’t ACT on her interest in other guys, because we’ve promised to be monogamous. But I could care less if she yearns for, desires, or is attracted to any number of people in real life or on the screen. The difference between us and the fundamentalists is that I TRUST my partner to be faithful without placing mental shacks on her thoughts and she feels the same for me. Trust. Try it out.

DeathToMediaHacks on November 9, 2008 at 9:50 PM

Your “woman?” Ah, you’re not married. And you haven’t seen the movie either.

So I’m wondering how you’re even qualified to make a comment in this thread.

fossten on November 9, 2008 at 10:18 PM

I saw it with my wife and daughter last week, and we finished watching Facing The Giants on DVD about 20 minutes before I came across this post. We enjoyed them both despite the less than Oscar quality of the production. If Hollywood would serve up decency this is one family that would patronize them. (Wife if Christian, I’m not.)

A note to DeathToMediaHacks:

Bro, I don’t intend this to be a snarky personal attack. But I’m having trouble following your logic. It’s my feeling that you fundamentally misunderstand the corrosive nature of pornography, feminine nature, and Christianity (fundamentalist or otherwise). If you think fundamentalist Christians don’t trust their spouses then I think you may have been taken in by the misinformation efforts of the hack media you seem to disdain. Who are you trying to convince?

mugged on November 9, 2008 at 10:36 PM

My wife and I saw Fireproof and we thought it was excellent. Not many movies now days speak to the pitfalls that porn can have on marriages. And porn does negatively influence a marriage. And lets not forget the words of Jesus when he says that whoever looks at a woman with lust has committed adultery with her in his heart.

VinnyL on November 9, 2008 at 10:37 PM

yeah you’re another case in point… brilliant argument there… maybe you should be in his next movie…

Kaptain Amerika on November 9, 2008 at 7:48 PM

Wasn’t making an argument, but then again, neither were you. I was making a judgment, just like you. Only mine was correct, and yours was not.

Jerkoff.

fossten on November 9, 2008 at 10:16 PM

and you continue to prove me correct… Judge… arguments are judgments, and statements of belief… and you bring no ammunition to the fight. you are completely unarmed. would you like to try again? or should I wait for someone to change your underwear.
-
would you like to argue the proof I provided of this nitwit stating domesticated bananas as proof of god’s design? didn’t think so… you’ll just continue to call names… like most, although I will give Kirk the credit that he does not sink to your level. as delusional as he may be, he still has respect.

Kaptain Amerika on November 9, 2008 at 11:09 PM

An explanation. Maybe.

WildBillK on November 9, 2008 at 11:23 PM

you’d think they could spare a few bucks to make something uplifting.

Dee2008 on November 9, 2008 at 7:03 PM

I thought the Bruce and Evan Almighty movies had some pretty solid values in them. Good movies, too.

joewm315 on November 9, 2008 at 11:24 PM

My wife “dragged” me to see Fireproof. Actually, I agreed pretty readily since our 20th anniversary is next week and the price of the movie is about all the funds we’ve got to celebrate with at this point.

Excellent, excellent, excellent!

Acting was better than I expected and the story was well done.

Hopefully, prayerfully, we’ve been through our worst already. Always good to have those reminders though about treating my better half better.

Definitely worth the date.

Ace ODale on November 9, 2008 at 11:31 PM

I couldn’t imagine what the divorce rate would be if all Christian women harshly enforced the no pornography rule on their husbands that some are advocating here.

muyoso on November 9, 2008 at 7:52 PM

Uh, my church strictly enforces that rule (not sayin’ everyone who’s a member of my church doesn’t look at it, but all the members in good standing don’t, which is most) and our divorce rate is a much lower than the divorce rate of the general populous. We’re told to not keep computers in bedrooms and to keep them out in a main traffic area, which most of us do, and we’re all pretty happy and still married and don’t have husbands addicted to porn for the most part! Surprise!

Christina D on November 9, 2008 at 11:44 PM

Christina D on November 9, 2008 at 11:44 PM

I don’t understand how parents can allow their kids to have TVs or computers in their rooms, but I guess it’s very common.

jgapinoy on November 10, 2008 at 12:04 AM

Bro, I don’t intend this to be a snarky personal attack. But I’m having trouble following your logic. It’s my feeling that you fundamentally misunderstand the corrosive nature of pornography, feminine nature, and Christianity (fundamentalist or otherwise).

If you think fundamentalist Christians don’t trust their spouses then I think you may have been taken in by the misinformation efforts of the hack media you seem to disdain. Who are you trying to convince?

Couple of things:
1. Well I’m not sure if I’m trying to convince anyone, I enjoy the spirited debate these kinds of forums allow. Wouldn’t it be kind of boring if everyone on here agreed all the time?

2. I understand more than I may be expressing here. I get the idea of trying to live your marriage as closely to the ideal vision your specific interpretation of the Bible tells you the ideal marriage looks like. That includes this notion of “adultery in the heart and mind” being equal to physical adultery. The more you invest in that notion, the more you probably understand a fantasy life (which someone quite rightly pointed out is NOT dependent on porn) as a threat to your marraige. Because it IS adultery.

3. I find that nortion so fundamentally flawed and so anti-human nature it’s hard for me to accept that the great Designer up there thinks that’s how things should go. If we’re going to believe that the development of human life was guided by a conscious hand (and I’m willing to believe that, there’s logic to it) don’t we also have to allow for the possibility that our bio-chemical makeup is equally determined by God? If so, that thing in our brains that encourages us to be fruitful and multiply, spread our seed/eggs, i.e. lust and desire are part of Gods plan.

Clearly, we shouldn’t be having sex with everything that moves and clearly, if you sign up for marriage or a committed unmarried partnership, you should adhere to your vows. But to demand MENTAL fidelity is just dumb, and I can’t really believe that our biologically induced urges are meant to be totally supressed. It’s a theological difference between me and the fundies. That’s all. Not a product of believing crazy things about the fundies that the hack media tells me.

DeathToMediaHacks on November 10, 2008 at 12:17 AM

Fundamentalist garbage. Ed, you are seriously brainwashed my man. Try thinking for yourself every once and a while. Nobody has a monopoly on “The Truth”.

dakine on November 10, 2008 at 12:50 AM

Our big question: can a theatrical film succeed in delivering a message while still entertaining its audience?

I was laid up in a hospital in St. Petersburg Russia for about 4 days. I was visiting when I thought I was having a stroke which turned out to be a migraine headache. Anyway, it was a private hospital which had hired an American to deal with American patients. This guy was an evangelical and, while a nice person, could be very cloying. Apparently he had managed to get the Hospital to have all but one channel in English be proselytizing born-again types. I grew to hate Kirk Cameron.

So no, I will not be going to see this movie. I even checked myself out of that place because i couldn’t take anymore.

Bill C on November 10, 2008 at 1:47 AM

I saw the movie. It’s as ED said. Dialog is a bit forced and predictable sometimes but it still made me tear up a few times. I thought that the message was good and a lesson on how we should treat ALL of our loved ones.. not just a spouse.

As far as internet porn.. A guy I knew was in a counseling because it was destroying his marriage. He summed it up for me like this.

“The porn was instant gratification to cover over and make myself feel better over the inability to express my heart to my wife..or anyone. Even when I had sex with my wife it was no more than using her for masturbation to the images I had viewed.”

The use of porn is sad because of the need for it. A man who loves his wife the way God intended will not need it. When a husband uses porn and fantasy, he is telling his wife, you alone are not enough to satisfy me.. you are lacking.

GoodBoy on November 10, 2008 at 2:56 AM

Clearly, we shouldn’t be having sex with everything that moves and clearly, if you sign up for marriage or a committed unmarried partnership, you should adhere to your vows. But to demand MENTAL fidelity is just dumb,
DeathToMediaHacks on November 10, 2008 at 12:17 AM

I guess you think that the words of Christ are dumb, then, because He says in the Bible that to lust after a woman is adultery.

and I can’t really believe that our biologically induced urges are meant to be totally supressed.

Um, that’s a straw man argument. “Totally suppressed” isn’t true at all. You’re using hyperbole. Our biologically induced and God-given urges are supposed to be directed toward our wives. Since you are obviously and admittedly living in a state of fornication, you wouldn’t understand that anyway.

Again, how are you qualified to comment in this thread?

fossten on November 10, 2008 at 7:14 AM

would you like to argue the proof I provided of this nitwit stating domesticated bananas as proof of god’s design? didn’t think so… you’ll just continue to call names… like most, although I will give Kirk the credit that he does not sink to your level. as delusional as he may be, he still has respect.

Kaptain Amerika on November 9, 2008 at 11:09 PM

I’ve already done that discussion in another thread with others who were not jerkoffs, so…no thanks. It’s off topic. You might try staying on topic for once.

fossten on November 10, 2008 at 7:16 AM

I think one of the biggest problems that Christians have is in trying to explain the philosophical underpinnings of their beliefs to others. Christianity isn’t simply a matter of faith. There is a complete and comprehensive understanding of not only ethics and morality, which can be described as how to avoid doing what is wrong, but on how to purposefully pursue what is right. Communicating this to others is of the utmost importance because even if the recipient is not a Christian and never will be, they may still absorb some of the wisdom that is to be found within Christianity.

I think this movie might be a good attempt at this. The fact that it has made so much money must have the leftists fit to be tied.

leereyno on November 10, 2008 at 7:29 AM

I have to say, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to see Fireproof. It was being pushed by my church, but I somewhat expect a “b” movie.

It was a very entertaining movie, with laughs, drama, and a real plot.

The movie, and the ideals that it represents have since helped my wife and I get along much better. At one point, I was ready to file for divorce not too long ago, but this movie helped us to see each other differently, but also in my case for sure, it helped me to look at myself, and how I could be a better husband. I’m not sure how much this movie had to do with it, but our marriage has changed dramatically for the better.

charlie36r on November 10, 2008 at 7:57 AM

yeah you’re another case in point… brilliant argument there… maybe you should be in his next movie…

Kaptain Amerika on November 9, 2008 at 7:48 PM

But somehow we’re supposed to believe your argument that “Christians are dumb” is brilliant. You’re obviously bitter toward Christianity. Just be a man and admit it instead of throwing lame accusations and thinking you’re intelligent for doing it. You aren’t.

AubieJon on November 10, 2008 at 7:59 AM

Internet porn is crap. Better to buy it in video form and watch it in the bedroom with one’s spouse – there are a lot of videos out there nowadays that are not degrading to either party (couples videos), and that can add a bit of spice to one’s marriage. Of course, if that’s not your cup of tea, that’s cool, but not everyone that watches dirty movies is destroying their marriage. Of course, when one has small children, like us, we don’t have much time to do anything anyway! : )

Tim and I are buying tickets to this movie for his parents – they rarely get out to the movies, and it seems like a good bet. I’m hoping they might get the subtle hint too… my FIL isn’t addicted to porn, but he does spend way too much time playing with trains, and not enough time taking care of my MIL (who needs the care). I also read somewhere that Kirk Cameron had his wife fill in for the kissing scenes, so that he wouldn’t have to kiss a woman other than his wife. Unconventional, but I totally respect that.

Anna on November 10, 2008 at 8:19 AM

Good movie-especially on a date night away from the kids. Even if you have a great marriage, one can learn a few lessons about giving a little more to your marriage and being less selfish with your time.

If you want to see more values centered movies at the theater, then support this one. We were glad we saw it!

texasconserv on November 10, 2008 at 8:51 AM

Nobody has a monopoly on “The Truth”.

Odd. That sounds like a truth statement about “truth.” I guess somebody thinks they DO have a monopoly on it.

TXRedhead on November 10, 2008 at 10:05 AM

I think you’re all being inconsiderate. Porn stars need to make a living too. What else is a woman with no gag reflex going to do?

LimeyGeek on November 10, 2008 at 1:47 PM

Nice mix of opinions here, some good points made…I have no interest in seeing the movie. I cringe at most “Christian entertainment”, including Gospel groups, Contemporary Christian Artists, Gaither Homecomings, and Kirk Cameron.
My Christian life is centered on communing with God, reading His Word, worshiping in my local church with my local church family. I haven’t been to a “Christian Music” concert in over 20 years.
Why does Christian Entertainment leave me cold? It is commercializing the Spiritual part of our lives, and I resent that.
I am spammed by the company that sold me my Bible study software. They even call me from time to time to ‘let me know’ that they have a new product out. I’m not being fellow shipped; I’m being marketed at.

Doug on November 10, 2008 at 1:53 PM

Peddling god is big business. We have countless GodMarts springing up around us down here. They’ll have a drive-thru next.

LimeyGeek on November 10, 2008 at 1:58 PM

Kirk Camroon is everything that makes Christians look stupid…

Kaptain Amerika on November 9, 2008 at 6:49 PM

Speak for yourself. I’ll stand next to Kirk Cameron on this any day. He’s out there fighting in the trenches trying to help the lost avoid going to hell. What are you doing for the Lord? Huh? Tell us. We’re curious. Folks like you are living under the assumption that God would never really send anyone to a burning hell. You’re just fooling yourself and in for a rude awakening. You see my friend, God didn’t spare the angels nor the men and women of the old world, but sent them to hell to await their final judgment. What makes you think for one moment He’ll spare you!

apacalyps on November 10, 2008 at 3:14 PM

I have to say, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to see Fireproof. It was being pushed by my church, but I somewhat expect a “b” movie.

It was a very entertaining movie, with laughs, drama, and a real plot.

The movie, and the ideals that it represents have since helped my wife and I get along much better. At one point, I was ready to file for divorce not too long ago, but this movie helped us to see each other differently, but also in my case for sure, it helped me to look at myself, and how I could be a better husband. I’m not sure how much this movie had to do with it, but our marriage has changed dramatically for the better.

charlie36r on November 10, 2008 at 7:57 AM

That’s awesome! I tried to get my best friend and his wife to go see it (they’re having problems), but to no avail.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

thebronze on November 11, 2008 at 7:24 PM

Comment pages: 1 2