on February 3, 2009
Reading the reviews here and seeing the variety of reactions to Fireproof is almost as interesting as the movie itself.
Most of the positive reviews focus on the message. Most of the negative reviews focus on the technical quality of the movie, and/or the reviewers' feelings about Christianity. Accordingly, I'd like to chime in on these three topics.
Technical Quality: Although I did like the movie, I have to admit the negative reviewers have a point here. The cinematography and special effects are more in line with what you'd expect on a TV show than a feature film. There's nothing glaringly awful, but the viewer is definitely aware this film was not financed like a big-budget Hollywood movie.
The acting performances are about the same. Cameron puts in a solid professional job, but nothing that's going to go down in history as one of the great performances of all time. The rest of the cast is pretty spotty, and most of them have at least one line or one scene that comes off a bit lame. Again, not so bad as to be unwatchable, but definitely below average for feature films.
The Message: This is why people like the film, and why I liked it too. There are actually two messages here - one about marriage and one about Christianity. Most of the negative reviewers can't seem to separate these two issues, which is understandable since there' entwined. Let me take a stab at dealing with them separately.
The marriage-related messages portrayed in this movie are:
1) Married people who are predominantly focused on their own feelings and their own needs are not likely to succeed. Marriage takes a lot of work, and a predominantly selfless attitude.
2) In order for a marriage to work, both partners have to be willing to admit that they are flawed human beings, that they make mistakes, that they are sometimes selfish and hurtful, and that they sometimes have to ask humbly to be forgiven. Christians certainly recognize this message, but it applies equally to non-Christians (except for those who are perfect, many of whom apparently have written reviews of Fireproof here).
3) There will be conflicts and hard times during a marriage, and when this happens, both partners must be committed to making it work and ensuring the survival of the marriage - even when this seems like a lot of work and doesn't seem to be rewarded or recognized.
4) For a marriage to really work, both partners will have to continually grow and improve themselves - often in ways that are not comfortable and entail sacrifices.
Anyone who has actually been married for a while and worked through problems will recognize the above themes as true to life - and, most emphatically, true to life in a way that Hollywood movie portrayals of love and romance are definitely not true to life.
I believe that most of the people who liked this movie - certainly me and my wife - are resonating with FINALLY a movie that seems to understand what enduring marriage and love that grows over the years are really all about. Most movies portray love as a state of blissful happiness - which it sometimes is - but miss the larger picture of love as an ongoing project that two people work on, working hard and selflessly, for many years.
The Christian Message: People who are just flat-out offended by Christianity, or those who have past traumas, grudges, or anger toward Christians, simply are not going to like this movie. If you're in this group, just don't go.
The people in this movie express and embody their work on their marriage and their personal growth through their faith. If you're a Christian, you will very likely identify with this and see it is a positive.
If you're a non-Christian who has a generally benign, friendly attitude toward Christianity and Christians, this movie might be worth a try for you. The challenges these folks face and the things they have to overcome are not limited only to Christians, and may be familiar to you. They do frame their solutions and their personal work in Christian terms. If you're interested in Christianity, or how Christains frame and work through personal problems, then this movie might have some interest for you.
on November 10, 2008
After seeing this move my husband I and stayed up all night talking about our relationship and issues we had buried for years. The movie was the catalyst for a weekend I'll never forget. We feel like newlyweds again. This movie can change your life!
on November 24, 2008
I watched this movie at the local theater TWICE last week and loved it both times. It evokes a variety of emotions including laughter, tears, tension. Many co-workers watched it also and we could not stop talking about it. The writing is superb! The actors and actresses are perfect for their parts (even the church members that have roles).
Even if you are not married, this movie can still teach you about relationships. Just because you are single or have a good marriage does not mean you should not watch it.
An excellent addition to any movie library. The Kendrick brothers just keep getting better!
on February 6, 2009
I see that a few folks have given very angry negative reviews because of this pic's Christian perspective, but their emotional reaction misses the point entirely. The film is not trying to convert anyone, it's simply trying to show that even a badly damaged marriage can be redeemed, and is worth redeeming.
OK, not as glossy as we've come to expect from the studios - the acting is, for the most part, pretty poor, and the dialog is stilted. But - take it from someone who has been there - I've never seen a movie that better depicted the hurt, frustration, and hopelessness of a failing marriage, and what can be accomplished if one makes the commitment to save it.
on October 24, 2008
Fireproof was an amazing movie. For any of you who are married and need a little encouragement - this is a movie for you. It is a great Christian movie in a world where emotions and selfishness rule. Finally, there is a movie that addresses the REAL meaning of love and sacrifice. It is a must see for EVERYONE. Come ready to find or renew your faith in Jesus!
RELATIONSHIPS. That is what this movie is about. It is about the relationships between the men of a firehouse that depend upon each other. It is about a marriage and depending on each other, wife to husband, and he to her. The movie is about parent relationships--the kind that last a lifetime. The movie is about God, and a personal relationship with Him. RELATIONSHIPS!
From the makers of "FACING the GIANTS", this newest movie, "Fireproof", has surpassed what many 'Hollywood' movies attain. It is an emotional roller coaster that will have you gasping, laughing, crying, holding your breath, wanting to scream a warning...and perhaps, even a standing ovation at the end. The movie is filled with plenty of firefighting action, hero stunts, as well as some of the most tender moments ever placed on film.
Capt. Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron) must try to guide the firehouse team through many emergencies, training, and firehouse interaction while he sees his marriage dissolving on the home front. He gives up on the marriage...UNTIL...his father convinces him to wait 40 days and follow what he calls a "The Love Dare," a daily task written out in a notebook by the father's own hand. Wife Catherine (Erin Bethea), also is ready to dissolve the marriage going nowhere. She gets attention at work from a young doctor and decides a divorce is needed as soon as possible. Caleb accepts his dad's challenge but his daily attempts seem only to fail. Fortunately, a fellow firefighter, Lt. Michael Simmons (Ken Bevel) is a constant, dedicated, and Christian friend as well as co-worker.
There will be many who will say this movie is for every couple that is having difficulties and their marriage relationship is in jeopardy. That is true, BUT, this marriage is even better for working marriages, marriages that yet have some flame, at least a spark, so they can see again what is important in life and in a relationship. Not to "Fireproof" the marriage but to "fan the flames."
And just when the movie's ending arrives, you are wishing it never had to end, and your bag of popcorn has caught the last tear, there is one additional surprise extra-ending. I'll not spoil it. What a wonderful job of writing by brothers, Stephen and Alex Kendrick. Alex also directed. What a ministry/witness by the entire production staff, cast, and the church that prays and accomplishes a product like this story.
I agree with others, when available, give it as a gift. The gift that keeps on giving. 5 gems for the crowns of everyone associated with this picture.
on November 25, 2008
When I went to see this with my parents; I just expected a movie about firefighting, because my dad is a firefighter, and he wanted to see it also! It turned out to be a movie about love, God, and marriage. Captain Caleb Holt is a firefighter who is having problems with his wife, Catherine. They have a huge fight, and Catherine wants a divorce. Caleb visits his dad and dad gives him a book about a 40 day challenge. Each day, he has to do something nice for his wife, like buying her flowers, and making a romantic dinner. It's not all serious, there are quite a few funny moments, and a little suspense when it comes to firefighting. When Catherine thinks that Caleb is being nice just to get money from the divorce, he still doesn't stop. Around the 20th day, Caleb finally wants to commit to keeping Catherine. It gets really emotional sometimes. If you are a fireman, like love stories, or a Christian, you'll love FIREPROOF!!!
on November 15, 2008
This is the best christian movie I have ever seen. I know the actors where all volunteers and did the movie from their love of God & the need to turn out movies that the christian community can enjoy. The story will emotionally grip you. There was laughter just at the right time. The issues the main characters face are real in any marriage, especially in our age of disposable marriages.
We went to see this movie with a few of our couple friends and there was not a dry eye in the theater. It makes you think and want to come back & try harder on your own marriage. Inspirational!
Highly recommend! This would make a great present for any couple.
on June 11, 2009
Before I start this review I should state where I am coming from, as I feel that most reviewers neglect this fact and let their inherent bias' seep into their critiques gradually. So to start off with I'm a recently married guy with a wife who is beginning to get in touch with the Lord via a local church, and myself I am pretty firmly in the agnostic-atheist camp. So the wife wanted us to watch this together which we did the other night.
Now, this is a movie, so despite its underlying theme, message or what-have-you is open to critique apply so- for instance the holocaust was a bad thing, but Schindlers' list was a good movie, because of it's a)acting b)plot c)effects. So in this regard, Fireproof was about a falling apart marriage and the redemption of that marriage.
The acting was rather poor, for all the cast members. To be fair, by the end of the movie it had gotten much better, but I think this was owing to the fact that so much emotional content had happened by then that the characters themselves were that much more familiar and I was able to get past their acting abilities. The dialogue was also very, very stilted and unnatural. To me the effect was like watching a dinner-play rather than a movie, which was not what I had expected before-hand.
The supportive cast was very shallow in development, although the point of the movie was the marriage. Still, the nurses, the fire-crew, etc were really only there to make the viewer aware of the supposed underlying struggles going on in the main couples heads. For instance, the nurses seemed to me the exemplar of the `catty' girlfriends, and equally the fire-crew seemed the boiler-plate `bros'. The only character other than the two main ones whom I felt was developed at all was Kirk's friend, and this was during the railroad scene and the marriage `secret' revelation. The comical aspects of the characters were funny enough, only they too felt very strained and forced. As for the husband and wife characters, their fights and acting were also very jumpy and stilted. To be honest though it did take a while to adjust to seeing Kirk as all grown up- I kept remembering Growing Pains for the first half-hour. Kirk's father was actually the only actor I thought had who actually `acted'. His portrayal of a fatherly, benevolent guide was actually pretty believable and affable.
Now as to the plot, I thought it was a relatively good portrayal of a dysfunctional marriage. The self-centeredness and derisive nature of each was effectively conveyed, however spotty the dialogue and acting were. The simplistic aspects of the plot however, I felt were a bit biased, one-sided and unrealistic. The glaring obviousness I felt was that the husband's character was the one who changed the most throughout the film, and it was primarily about this change that the movie centered on. To be fair, the wife had to come to her own conclusions as to the worthiness of the marriage, yet I felt that the one actually going to put out the fire was indeed the husband, pun intended. I also felt that this was an underlying theme, that the males in the film were what needed fixing- be it the main husband, Kirk's father who was the one who was actually Booked on by his mother, the doctor who was also affairing around, the best friend who had a failed marriage and was trying to redeem himself, and even the `unbelieving' fireman who said we go into the ground and nothing more. It just seemed to me that the movie was anti-male across the board, and portrayed women as self-interested due to poor male influence or because their love was overpowering. The fact that neither the main characters nor Kirk's fire-man friend had any children was also a much more simplistic view about marriage- kids are an integral part of any marriage I feel, and even in their absence the need to talk about them or include them was a large piece of the puzzle that was left out. In fact the only child in the movie was the one in the burning house. Kirk's parents were also an idealized version of parents it seemed, the fatherly sage and the selfless mother. Granted there were mild tensions between Kirk's character and his mother, it just seemed too idealized for me. But it was more this general idealization of the entire cast that really brought the simplistic aspects of the film to the forefront. Each character did exactly what they were there to do, and nothing more, be it offering advice, casting disparagements, offering temptation, acting as comic relief, etc. etc. This to me simply downplayed the movie itself. I will say though that the plot was emotional enough, both from a male perspective and a female perspective. Again it had more to do with idealized truths though than any plot elements- i.e. courage, honor, sacrifice, devotion, harmony, etc etc. It wasn't so much that the film lacked these understandings, nor had set up a bad track for them to unfold; it was the glaring and over-the-top bluntness of their display.
As for the message- it was simple enough; save your marriage through grit and fortitude and with a dose of the Lord. Now I am pretty neutral on the Christian thing, but for one thing, this was a Christian movie, so to sit back and bash it because it had a Christian message is nonsensical, you knew that going into it. Second, the Christian message isn't overpowering, it's not like every scene is an orgy of praying and Praise Jesus'. It wasn't subtle though either. To be honest, if the acting and the stilted dialogue wasn't such a drain on the movies effectiveness, the message was just enough to serve its purpose and not become overbearing. The only over the top scene that was Christian was the scene with Kirk and his father standing before the Cross, when Kirk is describing his lack of success with his attempts to save his marriage. Otherwise, the message was not as pervasive as I was expecting, but again the simplistic aspects of the movie, chiefly its idealized ideologues was what, for me, subverted its effectiveness.
So overall did I like the movie? Yes, but not for its acting, message or plot. Mostly I liked its ideal, that marriage is hard-work. But more than anything I enjoyed the attempt at an honest portrayal of a bad marriage, from both a female perspective and male perspective- an attempt, however simplistic to give both sides and pathos in a relationship equal merit and weight. So in a movie that focused on ideals it was the ideal that I was left with, and nothing more. So for this reason I wish the acting had been better.
on January 17, 2012
- then you might find this story a help. Like many, I am biased to think that a "Christian" movie is going to prove a disappointment. After all, the Hollywood stars generally don't risk this type of subject, and the budgets for these films do not run into the 10's and 100's of millions dollars.
What is important is the message, not the stars and the budgets. So, with no caution, I recommend that anyone struggling in their marriage, as well as anyone concerned with making sure their marriage is on track, consider this video. It contains solid acting, good camera work and lighting, and a message of faith, which after all is the important part.
None of us truly knows what goes on in other households, what struggles come to bear, what the long silences between spouses would tell if they could talk, or what heartache exists between people who pledge to love one another. This movie takes just one scenario and brings it to life. In it we can see how good intentions can be destroyed by reliance upon material desire, failure to openly communicate, and failure to consider the pain of the other spouse.
Seeing it may risk one coming to see the value of their spouse and their marriage in a brand new light, and may, in some cases, bring a troubled marriage back to life.