Stars: Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea
Sherwood Pictures/Provident Films
Opens in select (approximately 750) theaters September 26th
By Brittney Switala For a couple on a budget, a visit to the movies can be more expensive than it is worth. However dropping the kids off at the sitter, investing in a tub of buttery popcorn, and holding hands at the latest movie from the creators of Facing the Giants may be considered marriage therapy. And we all know how expensive therapy can be…
Fireproof is the story of a fire chief who is a hero to everyone in town, except his wife. Caleb Holt (played by Kirk Cameron– Growing Pains, the Left Behind trilogy) is a man’s man who is self-centered and addicted to the ideals of a perfect boat and the perfect woman. His wife Catherine (played by Erin Bethea who had a bit role in Facing the Giants) finds it hard to act civil around her husband and finds a shoulder to cry on from her girlfriends and a doctor with Southern charm at the hospital where she works. Divorce looks to be a natural next step until Caleb’s father sends him a leather journal. The book, written in his dad’s handwriting, challenges Caleb to commit to 40 days of wooing his wife before he consents to a divorce. Through a combination of the book, a change in Caleb’s attitude, and faith he finally understands what it means to really love his wife. But the question remains, “Is it too little too late for the marriage to be saved?”
Fireproof is an upgrade in a number of ways from previous Sherwood Pictures films. Sherwood Pictures is the theater ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church of Albany, Georgia. This is their third movie. Their first movie “Flywheel” went straight to DVD, while “Facing the Giants”, picked up by Provident films, was shown in 1000 theaters and grossed $10,000,000. “Fireproof” continues with the same Writer/Producer/Director team of brothers Alex and Steven Kendrick, but with $500,000 to work with. The additional financing apparently did not go into securing a “named” star in Kirk Cameron. Cameron did not accept payment for his involvement in the movie. According to www.fireproofthemovie.com Cameron requested that any fee that would have been paid to him be given to his non-profit organization Camp Firefly for seriously and terminally ill children and their families. The film’s biggest assets are the superb writing the Kendrick brothers team and Cameron’s top-notch acting. Kirk Cameron’s most recent acting ventures in the Left Behind films 2000-2005 (Cloud Ten Pictures) left many Christians feeling almost embarrassed by the films’ poor quality and wondering whether Kirk Cameron could really handle a serious dramatic role. This movie lays those worries aside. He convincingly portrays a wide range of emotions and handles challenging fire rescue scenes with ease.
There are many faces in this movie viewers will recognize from previous Sherwood pictures films. For example football player “Brock” (Eric Harmon) who did the death crawl in Facing the Giants has a supporting role in Fireproof as a fledgling firefighter. However some of the best acting in the movie is done by people we’ve never previously seen in a Sherwood film, including the actor who plays Caleb’s best friend, Kevin Bevel who has no previous acting experience. Erin Bethea, who plays Catherine Holt, had a small role in Facing the Giants as a sports reporter. Her acting and emotional expression seem to improve as the movie goes along, but overall she appears to overact, which points to her lack of experience. Such a large and demanding part would have been better suited for an actress equal to Kirk Cameron to bring this movie up to Hollywood standards.
Regardless of any perceived weaknesses in Fireproof as a theatrical piece, this Kendrick brothers story has the power to change marriages and ultimately change eternal destinies. The leather journal given to Caleb by his father called the “Love Dare” is a 40 day challenge of self sacrifice. As Caleb begins to read the book and eventually understands God’s ultimate sacrifice in sending his son Jesus to die on the cross Caleb becomes a new husband and a new man. Fireproof is a great starting point for couples to discuss two touchy subjects: selfishness and infidelity. It also reminds all of us that it is our nature to drift apart in marriage. It is only through a covenant with God that we are in it for life that our marriages can truly be “fireproof.” For a closer marriage I’d pay the theater $9.50 any day.
Brittney Switala is a Christian radio DJ for His Radio in Raleigh, North Carolina and voice talent for Yours and His Productions. Brittney has her B.A. in English/Communications from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois. Brittney has been married for 12 years and has two children, Lindsey and Micah. When not surfing Christian artist websites for the latest scoop, Brittney enjoys a good conversation and a cup of “gas station” cappuccino. Recently, Brittney’s biggest accomplishments have been finishing all the laundry and helping her son get potty trained. Brittney has a passion for strong marriages. She is currently writing a book called Dare to Go Unnoticed, addressing how flirting and dressing to get noticed are dirty little secrets of the Christian female community.