Most helpful positive review
969 of 992 people found the following review helpful
+ and - reviews reflect the reviewers more than the movie
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.