Note: This commentary was delivered by PFM President Mark Earley.
It’s not every day I give a low-budget film “two thumbs up.” But today I do.
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a special screening of Fireproof, a film produced by Sherwood Baptist, a church in Georgia committed to engaging the culture through compelling stories with Christian themes. Like Sherwood’s first film, Facing the Giants, Fireproof was produced almost entirely with a volunteer cast and crew, made up mostly of church members.
I was expecting a ‘B’ grade movie. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. By the end of the two-hour-long screening, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, including mine. And there was some great drama, and a number of laughs along the way.
In the film, Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron plays fireman Caleb, who is a hero to everyone but his wife. In between rescuing children from burning buildings and averting deadly train wrecks, Caleb bickers with his wife for disrespecting him, while she nags at him for leaving dishes in the sink.
It would have been easy for the producers to gloss over the harsh realities of many marriages, but they didn’t. For example, a screaming match in one of the first scenes concludes with the couple deciding to get a divorce. Over the next few days, Caleb’s wife begins flirting with another man, while Caleb sits at home looking at Internet pornography.
That’s when Caleb’s father shows up and urges his son to give the marriage a last ditch effort. From there, Caleb embarks on a 40-day challenge to win his wife back by following a day-to-day guide his father gave him. He cleans the house, buys her flowers, and even makes dinner for her. But believing him to be weaseling his way into a more favorable settlement, she hands him divorce papers.
The plot unfolds dramatically and emotionally, with a clear Gospel message tucked in the middle, showing how God’s unfailing love is the perfect antidote to floundering marriages. There are several twists along the way, but in the end-well, you’ll just have to see it.
I’d recommend it for those whose marriage is on the rocks, as well as for those in strong marriages. Bring your spouse with you, or the entire family. There may be some portions not appropriate for small children.
Of course the film has its cheesy moments, as any movie produced on a shoestring budget is bound to have. And, in my opinion, the movie’s step-by-step presentation of the Gospel was a little over the top. As my colleague Zoe Sandvig wrote at our blog, The Point, the makers of Fireproof obviously know how to tell a good story. Clearly, they “didn’t want to risk the possibility that someone-particularly a non-Christian-might miss the spiritual significance of the moment.” But if they had allowed the audience to “connect the dots,” so to speak, the film would have been even stronger.
Ultimately, Fireproof paints an excellent picture of the “true to life” struggle that married people face every day. And kudos to Sherwood Baptist for caring enough about the culture to bring a Christian message to bear through film with a great story.
So go see Fireproof when it hits theaters on September 26. Trust me, you’ll leave the film with plenty of reasons why any marriage, including your own, is worth fighting for.
Just remember to bring a tissue or two.