In my life, I have been married and divorced once. Quite simply, I made my share of mistakes and in my opinion, my ex-wife made some mistakes as well. It just never worked like one thinks a marriage should work. Instead, it left me broken but more importantly it left me a lot smarter and a better person. So naturally, I felt some connection to the broken marriage plot of the movie Fireproof. However, would my experience or failure in the art of marriage provide a bias to this film? We will just have to find out.
Caleb Holt (played by Kirk Cameron) works as a fire captain and manages a fire station. He’s a hero among the community and has saved many lives. However, at home he has a troubled marriage with Catherine (played by Erin Bethea) for a number of reasons including internet pornography and simply lack of love. During a particularly heated argument, Caleb gets in Catherine’s face and she declares she wants out of the marriage.
Caleb decides to confide in his parents, John & Cheryl Holt (played by Harris & Phyllis Malcom). His mother seems to take Catherine’s side and this leads to a personal conversation between Caleb and his father. His father talks to him about God and offers a challenge to Caleb to save his marriage. The father’s instructions to Caleb are to go home and wait for a package.
Several days later, Caleb receives a package from his father. Inside contains a journal, written in his father’s handwriting. The book is called a Love Dare. Love Dare is essentially a forty day journey that challenges the recipient of the journal to try these various techniques in hope of strengthening your marriage and in this case making Caleb a better person. Can Caleb survive the forty day venture and in the process save the broken marriage with Catherine?
Kirk Cameron does a great job as Caleb. His role is very convincing and he plays the role as a troubled husband trying to get better very well. The cast is strong for the most part, pulling credible actors out of people who haven’t acted very much up to this point. Ken Bevel & Stephen Dervan provide good performances as fellow firemen: Michael & Wayne. The movie has a simplistic plot line and for the most part, it works very well. However, the devil is they say in the details.
The major problem I have with this movie is the complete one-sidedness of the blame. Both partners in the Holt marriage have issues and committed mistakes. The only one who is doing anything to resurrect the marriage is Caleb. Catherine idly sits on the sidelines and ignores everything Caleb does. Even after Caleb prepares a beautiful candle-lit meal for Catherine, she has the audacity to come out and say “I Don’t Love You” and serves him the next morning with divorce papers.
She even goes as far as to enter into an emotional affair with a doctor named Gavin Keller (played by Perry Revell). She never says sorry for the way she treated Caleb as she has just as much fault as Caleb does. The twist at the end also further cements the idea that the men in this movie are completely wrong and we need to convince women that the husband are 100% at fault and they should take the men back. It’s not that preachy but it should have certainly been less one-sided than it was to be more effective.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. Despite the low budget, the film looks really good. It’s a quality presentation with good color and sharp scenes. It might not be perfect, but it is clearly one of the standouts of the movie.
The audio is presented in English & Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. I found the audio a little less pleasing than the video. It’s certainly adequate and the audio is clear but since this is a heavy dialog driven movie, the action sequences provide little oomph and surrounds are not used very often. There are subtitles included for English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese.
- Commentary with Writer/Director Alex Kendrick and Writer/Producer Stephen Kendrick: Even though the film isn’t very preachy in my opinion, the commentary is extremely preachy. The two brothers do take the time to go into the production of the movie but they seem to end every other sentence preaching in reference to the Bible. They also talk
- Deleted Scenes 15:08: Ten deleted scenes, some really good stuff in there. Stephen Dervan is hilarious in the Hot Wings scene (he is in the whole movie, but really shines here). Ken Bevel’s character would have also benefited with the inclusion of some of these scenes. Some of the other scenes would have also added depth to the characters included.
- Fire Goofs/ Jokes & Pranks 7:41 : A nice montage of people who can’t get their lines and other assorted goofs. It was nice to see every character get in on the jokes, good unity throughout the film. It looked like a fun movie to work on.
- Fireproof: Behind the Scenes 22:49 : This is a good behind the scenes piece and talks a lot about previous films like Flywheel and Facing the Giants. There is also a good part of the featurette that talks about the local fire departments involvement. Like the commentary, behind the scenes is very preachy but brings across a lot of good information.
- Marriage Matters 7:22 : This goes through how the writers, directors and producers came up with the idea to use marriage and how to show it matters.
- Fireproof in 60 w/ Directors Introduction 1:33 : A really quick montage of the movie in about a minute. This might be effective to people who might be interested to know if they should see it again after they have viewed it once.
- Wayne on Wayne 3:20: Some great stuff out of Stephen Dervan, he is a natural at this. I would love to see him try out some other roles.
- Love Dare Promo 5:49: A promotional piece for Love Dare. It is an actual book that can take you on a journey to finding yourself and leading your heart to falling back into love with your spouse. I don’t agree with everything they go into, but the message is strong and this vehicle will help a lot of people.
- Fireproof Resources: This works hand in hand with the discussion guides on the dvd-rom portion of the disc. One prints out the pdfs from the dvd-rom and then watches the guided film clips on the disc. Good for Christian schools or people using the movie as a tool to save their own marriage.
- Previews: Facing the Giants, Faith Like Potatoes, and the Note.
The story of a man and a woman in the throws of a hopelessly broken marriage even though overused is good fodder for movie entertainment. In this tender tale, Caleb shows to Catherine that he is a changed man by taking the Love Dare challenge and accepting God into his heart. However, the main problem is that it should have been less one-sided and more emphasis that it takes two to mend a marriage. In most failed marriages, both parties are to blame and they should work together to resolve. This marriage pretty much follows the path of one spouse who makes all of the changes and then the other spouse goes okay I accept you back, the end. The other spouse never even says sorry. I hate to break it to the writers and those watching this movie, but sometimes marriages need to end. Yes, marriage should be forever but lots of good people get married for the wrong reasons. One has to accept that and move on. You can’t force somebody to love you. My own sermon aside, the video and audio are adequate and the extras do add to the film in both content and unfortunately preachiness. It’s hard to recommend this movie. I think the message is good, that marriage is worth saving. However, I can not get behind the fact that the writers chose to portray it as they did. My real recommendation is if you are in a troubled marriage and truly want to save it; talk with your spouse and decide on a path forth. If it is using the Love Dare device, counseling, or some other path; the important thing is to do it together.