But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us —Romans 5:8.
Wiping tears from our eyes, we viewers read these last words as they rolled off the screen for the movie premiere of, Fireproof, a powerful, worthwhile movie on Christian marriage.
I can remember, many moons ago, learning in a history class that many great movie stars were made during the Great Depression. People flocked to the theatres to see Shirley Temple dance her way across a stage or Scarlett rebuff Rhett. I admit that it never made sense to me because my teenage mind kept thinking, “If you don’t have money to eat, why would you go see a movie?” But as an adult, I now see how movies are often able to provide a brief reprieve from what ails you. A well-scripted movie can uplift and entertain. It can give you a sense of hope and can reawaken a part of you that has succumbed to everyday life. It can take you away, even if only for a couple of hours — but can also make a difference in your life.
In many ways, that is what Fireproof is all about. Set in the beautiful state of Georgia (I took a trip to Savannah two years ago and have since claimed Georgia as one of my favorite states), Fireproof is a Christian movie with the message: Never leave your partner behind. And, as you may be able to tell by the title, it is a clever theme that actually originates as the main character, Fire Chief Caleb Holt, played by Kirk Cameron, tells this to a new member of his crew. Caleb delivers this line with such conviction that it seems almost inconceivable that he misses how it is applicable to all things sacred, and extends beyond the relationships in the firehouse and subsequent burning buildings. He lives by one message at work but another at home. But it is this reality that makes us take note of Fireproof and maybe causes us to lower our heads in reflection. We recognize that our messages may be loud and clear but our actions often leave much to be desired. And so we see Caleb’s commitment to the men on his crew but not to his wife. We witness a marriage that is caving in to Caleb’s addictions as his wife has been pushed beyond her breaking point.
It is interesting and worthwhile to note that Fireproof has an all-volunteer cast, including Kirk Cameron and that the movie is rated PG. It is from the creators of Facing the Giants and is intended to reach audiences with Christ’s love and the message that when He is at the center of our married lives, we are able to face our difficulties and, with the grace of God, overcome them. Earlier in the year I wrote two columns on marriage, here and here, in which I emphatically state the same. Indeed, any of us in a marriage will recognize the Truth that love is a decision rather than a feeling. As such, the movie is expected to be part of a larger Christian marriage outreach program and will have tools available in early 2009 that complement it and can be used both personally and as part of any marriage course.
But this isn’t to say that the movie is all “message” and nothing else. Fireproof was able to make the audience laugh at just the right times while it also delivered a couple of fairly tense action moments that had us on the edge of our seats. The songs played throughout were exceptionally good and I imagine will become quite popular among all Christians who enjoy worship music. My particular favorite was John Waller’s “While I’m Waiting.”
Overall, I found Fireproof to be quite enjoyable despite two specific instances where I could clearly see the lines of demarcation between the Christian producers and potential Catholic viewers. But even so, I feel it is necessary to send a message to Catholics everywhere that this is a movie worth seeing.
I have decided not to identify those scenes but, rather, encourage you to pack the theatres during the movie’s run, and especially during that opening weekend, and if you happen to notice those scenes, contact the producers and share your thoughts. Let them know that you are a Catholic who has made a statement with your dollars, on behalf of Christian Catholics, that Hollywood ought to take us seriously but also that your faith as a Catholic is worth acknowledging. As part of the movie’s pre-release premiere, I did just that. We were asked to fill out surveys when the movie was over and I gave the movie a rating of 9 out of 10 and shared my thoughts as a Catholic.
Fireproof opens nationwide on September 26th. Visit the website at http://www.fireproofthemovie.com/. Maximus, a Catholic marketing and communications group, has joined forces with the producers and creators of Fireproof to help ensure that Catholic audiences are made aware of this new film. Recognizing that one man’s ministry is another man’s bottom line, the ultimate goal is to fill the theatres with ticket holders, thus saying to Hollywood: We are a formidable force and want wholesome entertainment. After all, we can’t keep clamoring for such things and then not support them when they are provided.
[Editor’s Note: Pre-release screenings for Catholic leaders are still occurring across the country. If you are a Catholic leader interested in seeing this film and learning how you might get involved, go to www.catholicscreenings.com.]