Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fireproof Movie Review

so i watched Fireproof... and i was surprised! i liked it! but i feel there is an itch that i gotta scratch and i can't figure out what it is.

Fireproof is a small budget movie that looks like it's made-for-TV, but it does have some good writing and decent acting. It stars Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea as a couple whose marriage is on the verge of implosion. now i was very hesitant because of Kirk's fundie theology and his "Way of the Master" website. but since Anglican Gurl asked, and it seems to be a very popular movie in some Christian circles, i figured i should check it out.

since this is a low-budget movie, some characters are 2D (like the mom and the wife) while others are stereotypes (like the black nurses and their "mmmmm hhhmmmm"). but overall it's a good story without getting too preachy. it's a movie that affirms marriage, and i gotta think that there are many out there that will benefit from seeing this movie.

i wonder at the born-again message and whether divorce can ever be justified. the one dude who did go through a divorce was only married a year and "it was before i was a Christian." so what about those ppl who struggle years through a marriage, attend church every day, and STILL get divorced? it seems that incompatability is not part of God's plan.

maybe that's what i need to scratch. this movie is throughly middle-class materialistic. Kirk is after a boat that he wants and looks at internet porn. there is no struggle to put food on the table, no addictions, no abuse, just apathy in the relationship. it is hard feeling for this childless couple in their huge, well-decorated house, driving their brand new cars. of course, material possessions need to be questioned and Kirk does give up his boat... only to buy MORE expensive (albeit needed) stuff for his wife's parents. so the importance of material goods are never questioned. in fact, it's the STUFF that ultimately reunites the couple, no transcendence or spirituality needed.

so i wonder what this movie would have looked like if you introduce poverty, abuse, adultery, addiction, children, unstable and unsupportive family systems, or if the couple were already church goers... but that's not how the story goes, so i guess it's a moot point. but it does make me wonder whether or not there is room for those things in this movie's theological framework.

one thing i really did like was that it was Kirk that had to change. in many of the failed relationships that i know, the woman is the first (and sometimes only) one to seek change and reconciliation, often to the detriment of her needs. she tries to give the husband what he asks for, and when she does, the husband just wants more. i think of my own mom and grandmother here and how they sought change and reconciliation. but the change didn't need to come from them and any demands they strove to meet weren't the problem in the first place. it was the man who needed to change and reconcile. i really liked that part and hopefully this movie will drive that same point home to men that if they want to see change in their marriage, they must sometimes BE the change (to paraphrase Gandhi).

i also love how Kirk learns how self-sacrificial love is. and how it solves a lot of problems, that sort of servant-leadership and self-sacrificing love which is all over the Gospels and well used by the likes of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr, as well as many others.that was pretty tight.

the theology framework in the movie is pretty solid. the dad is probably the weakest actor, but delivers all the theological lines, which were mostly the evangelical "thou aren't doing right, thou shalt be smited" by the angry God. there is a holistic reconciliation with the family. first Kirk reconciles with his wife and then with his mother who he has treated like crap the whole movie. it was pretty touching and inclusive, and i really enjoyed that and think it was a brilliant addition to the film.

this is a good film, albeit a light one. i know there are those out there who can really benefit from this film. and while i enjoyed it, i feel it just reinforced what we're doing already in our relationship. i really liked the idea that "when a man dates a woman, he studies her and gets to know her interests. when they marry, he usually stops. he should continue on. think of your dating as earning your high school degree. you should continue on and get an associate's, bachelor's, master's, all the way up to a PhD." this is a great metaphor.


sher said...

are you saying the middle class should not need help?

"so i wonder what this movie would have looked like if you introduce poverty, abuse, adultery, addiction, children, unstable and unsupportive family systems, or if the couple were already church goers... but that's not how the story goes, so i guess it's a moot point. but it does make me wonder whether or not there is room for those things in this movie's theological framework."

Why does the middle class have to support everyone else? Can't they have problems? Are they "too good" to have them? Or shame on them if they think they do?
Reminds me of folks that belittle children and teenagers problems as trifles... they haven't seen anything yet. Well, maybe not in the whole scheme of things they haven't, but to them, to their lives, to where they are, it IS everything. Ever hear of teenage suicide? seems stupid but it is what it is.
In my opinion, as a middle-class person, I think it was a cheesy but very needed movie. I have seen and still see a lot of relationships this movie could help. I am very glad to see the local churches showing this film. These are exactly the folks that need the message it sends. Who knows where it could lead. Too many middle class bought in to the happily ever after fairy tale. This film shows them it takes ongoing effort.

Luke said...

i know this movie wasn't made for me. i say that multiple times in the post. i know to many people like those in the this movie, their problems seem huge, but placed in larger perspective, they really aren't. i would have liked some perspective on the matter.. like if they volunteered or since Kirk was "in" this new faith, church and helping at a domestic abuse shelter could have provided this outlook. i know CPE is giving me a whole new perspective on how blessed i am.

Anglican Gurl said...

We used to say that this was the movie that saved our marriage. After reading this review, I can no longer say that. It helped refocus our marriage. It provided some useful tools. You draw out where we had a problem with it too. There is no tension between being a consumer and being a Christian in the evangelical culture. Thank you for pointing this out!

Anglican Boy said...

Actually "AG" is being too kind. We were shocked and frustrated at your review. We then talked about it and given your Fight Club review, I can totally see why you would write what you did.

We are now coming to the place where you are but we also affirm what sher has written. Her point that "Why does the middle class have to support everyone else? Can't they have problems?" and comparing them to teen-age problems is right on the money. We're happy for the discussion and the review but we really felt the growing pains on this one.

Frank said...

This movie completely sucked and there is no redeeming ANYTHING about it. Cameron's character had to SMASH his computer instead of using his will-power? The writing was horrid. The acting even worse. The theology was awful and ridden with contradictions. If having Jesus, as this movie implies, saves a marriage; then what is up with a 50% divorce rate among evangelicals? (well, one report states in the 35-ish percentile and another a 60-ish). It is a shallow, awful movie for shallow awful people.

Luke said...


not sure how to reply to this... pretty strong stance there bud. gotta have some redeeming factor in it?

Anonymous said...

Ha ha - man I had to laugh - almost sounds like my life. Married with no kids, a lot of cool expensice gadgets, a marriage that almost failed, and the realization I needed to 'change'. That's just funny to me...

Not sure I would actually like this movie - marriage and divorce are so much grittier topics than this film is giving credit. What about the anger? The revenge? What about feelings so strong a human will move heaven and earth just to see what's in them? These situations are so much deeper than I think this movie (low budget) can address. I haven't seen the movie - I have seen enough low budget Christian movies to know this one likely didnt touch those topics.

"wonder at the born-again message and whether divorce can ever be justified" (Luke)

Divorce should always be seen as very last option and marriage needs to be more of a committment than it is currently being expressed as in society.

People don't realize how much divorce can hurt the fabric of community or a family. Marriage isn't something to be taken lightly - because it's really quite the committment and many people (50% is the going rate) just cannot.

Of course I am not 'anti-divorce' - just that it needs to be looked at in more depth and what is causing so many splits in society. Are we becoming a society of quitters because of the introduction of so much choice around us?

I think if you add in poverty or the other factors it does change the movie a lot more - and makes it more realistic. Marriages are all about committment to one another and there is nothing easy about it...except for the love and aceptance the 2 recieve from one another.

I know for me marriage is something that needs to be worked at...continually. Mine almost fell apart and I had every right on this planet to end it...but it just wasn't right. I faced some tough times as I worked through the pain of the time - but grace and mercy broke through in the long run. What engineered it all was love. But it was the toughest thing I ever had to do - accept my wife for who she is...it broke some dreams but that's broken reality for you.

In fact that scenario has really put a chip on my shoulder for the easiness of this society. There are some serious sexual problems in these countries that we need to start addressing - and internet porn is only a percentile of that pie. I think this society is in sexual over-drive and is loosening it morals on close guarded sexuality for more open ideas.

I just watched a doc on some Toronto teens concerning sexuality. They talked about all the various avenues they now use to express this about themselves - from sexting to facebook. Its become a little bit more open to youth with the social networking going on. So add those in with televison ad's, tv shows, the internet, billboards, every clothing ad, movies, magazines...and it's not hard to see why sex is the only thing possessing people's minds these days.

Don't get me wrong - sex rocks...just think it's in overkill compared to other just as important things - like health.

Luke said...

Re-reading this a few months afterward, i guess i should have used "bourgeoisie" or "consumeristic" instead of "middle class."

I also think SVS nailed it by saying that marriage is much grittier... and what was presented wasn't personal at all. in fact, i didn't really care whether they broke up or not as there were really no reasons to like the characters other than one was a fire fighter and the other was in PR... public service and relations are both close to my heart due to my current call and undergrad degree.