Friday, April 10, 2009
Fireproof: A Night At The Movies
For the past few months, I have heard tons of buzz about the film, Fireproof, a new film by the people who did Facing The Giants. I haven't seen FtG, either, but last night, I finally got a chance to watch Fireproof. What seems most impressive about this film is that it was done almost entirely by church volunteers in 30 days! What an amazing accomplishment! It was also really beautiful to watch the DVD bonus features where they showed the cast and crew covering each scene/shot in prayer. Very powerful.
Impressive feats aside, however, it was still a film meant to entertain, and I tried to set aside any preconceived notions aside and just watch. The film follows a young couple, Caleb and Catherine Holt, as their marriage spirals toward divorce. After a heart-to-heart with his father, Caleb decides to spend 40 days trying to save his marriage using "The Love Dare." This journey of discovery turns into a story of redemption as Caleb finds salvation and prays to save his marriage. The ending is touching, though predictable, and more about message and meaning than it is about art.
I hesitate to criticize the film as I am certain that many will see it as some sort of snide swipe at a church's inspiring production. However, it is a film, and I endeavor to review it objectively. The writing, while far from inspired, is actually better than I expected. There were times when they snuck in a bit too much exposition in the dialogue, but overall, it wasn't bad. The acting, unfortunately, left something to be desired. Kirk Cameron, though far from my favorite actor (Hello! He's Mike Seaver, for crying out loud!), was at least passable. Even Erin Bethea, the church volunteer who played Catherine Holt, wasn't terrible. What seemed a shame to me was their choice for Caleb's father. Arguably one of the most important characters, Mr. Holt was wooden (at best) as he delivered his speeches on relationships and spiritual things. How unfortunate that the man who shared the most important message of the film (salvation) frequently sounded like he was reading from a cue card.
On the positive side, the special effects were well-done. The fire and car crash scenes were both believable and suspenseful. The emotions in the film also felt very genuine, which is crucial in a film that relies so heavily on emotional impact. Also refreshing was the film's frank use of scripture. No dancing around Christian themes here. Everything is laid out clearly for the viewer, no apologies.
I am certain that I have now sentenced myself to the pantheon of Christian movie haters - but unjustly so. I applaud what these people were trying to do with this film. It is a message that needs to get out - marriage is a committment, a decision, not an emotion. I simply feel after viewing the film that it is less popcorn and pj's and more marriage seminar. A fun, entertaining marriage seminar (and no, that's not an oxymoron.)