Fireproof (2008)

19 Apr


Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Fireproof” is a movie drenched in sentimentality, and yet it worked for me because it remained consistent in tone. Somehow when the message in “Fireproof” draws itself even clearer than it already has, the movie became more touching. It comes close to the edge of becoming too sentimental for its own good, and I think other people who see this movie will believe it did already reached the edge, but it still worked for me. It touched my heart, and that’s what it was trying to do in the first place.

The film, made by a Christian film company called Sherwood Pictures (based upon the Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia), is a drama with this message—be true to your spouse. It also coins a process for married couples to use when it seems like their marriages are falling apart—this process is called “The Love Dare.” It’s a 40-day procedure that the main character in “Fireproof” has to perform in an attempt for his wife to love him again.

Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron) is a fireman whose marriage with Catherine (Erin Bethea), a nurse, is falling apart. Catherine hates Caleb’s addiction to Internet pornography and his large savings for a boat he intends to buy. She would rather use the money to buy a better hospital bed for her sick mother.

Catherine says she wants out, and then files for divorce. Caleb turns to his father (Harris Malcom) and tells him about the impending divorce. His answer is “The Love Dare.” Caleb isn’t so sure about this at first, but soon enough, he’s going through this procedure day by day. In the meantime, Catherine isn’t buying her husband’s sudden niceness and just ignores his offers, while also possibly having an affair with a handsome doctor she works with. But the truth of the matter is that Caleb has indeed changed and he realizes that his motto—“Never leave your partner behind”—doesn’t just count at the firehouse or on rescue missions, but also—and arguably, most importantly—with your spouse.

“Fireproof” handles this plot by making me think that it’s going one way, while really, some of the time, it’s going another—I won’t even go into the point where the divorce papers come in—and that was a surprise. I’m uncertain that audiences for this movie will notice that—Christian audiences, mainly—but I am certain that the film’s weepy ending will sincerely move them. And I need to be honest here…I came so close to crying. The film’s ending did indeed touch me and that counts for this review.

The film isn’t entirely based on those moments that make people want to weep, however. There are comic antics performed by the other firemen—I love the scene where Caleb challenges a rookie to a tobacco-sauce-drinking contest. And there are two rescue scenes—one involving a car on train tracks and the other involving a burning house. This is a surprise, too. The action is well-directed (by Alex Kendrick, pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church) and well-paced.

“Fireproof” doesn’t feature acting that would cause consideration for awards, but there are some decent performances, especially from Kirk Cameron as the lead character and from Ken Bevel as a fireman who encourages Caleb to become a born-again Christian. Erin Bethea is adequate as Catherine, but her shouting scenes are a little off.

I understand whom “Fireproof” will appeal to and I believe that other people—especially those with marriages that are falling apart—should see it too. It’s a sweet, sentimental film with a positive message—what’s wrong with that?

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