Fireproof
PG
Entertainment: +4
Acceptability: +4

Kirk Cameron, Erin Bethea, Ken Bevel, Harris Malcom, Jason McLeod. Written & directed by Alex and Stephen Kendrick.

FILM SYNOPSIS: At work, inside burning buildings, Capt. Caleb Holt lives by the old firefighters adage: Never leave your partner behind. At home, in the cooling embers of his marriage, its a different story. After seven years of marriage, Caleb and Catherine prepare to enter divorce proceedings. But before the papers are signed, Calebs father challenges his son to commit to a 40-day experiment he calls The Love Dare. Mainly out of respect for his father, Caleb makes the attempt. However, when he discovers the books daily challenges are tied into his parents' newfound faith, his already limited interest is further dampened.

While trying to stay true to his promise, Caleb becomes frustrated time and again. He finally asks his father, How am I supposed to show love to somebody who constantly rejects me? When his father explains that this is a love only God can show us, Caleb reasons a need for a relationship with Christ. With God's help, he begins to understand what it means to truly love his wife.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Okay, let's get it out of the way. Yes, Fireproof has an agenda. It clearly states that you need Christ on the throne of your life and at the center of your marriage. But here's what sets it apart from the plethora of well-intentioned spiritually themed movies dedicated to the proposition that the message must come first; the brothers Kendrick (Facing the Giants, Flywheel) never overwhelm the entertainment value with a proselytizing lesson. They keep in mind that they are making a movie and must adhere to the laws of movie-making. Which is? Entertainment first. Want to get a message across? Make sure the audience is engrossed and likes your protagonists.

Oh, there are the usual filmmatic shortcomings associated with well-meaning religious storytelling. This awkwardness is seen especially in the opening scenes, where both the actors and introductory dialogue seem clumsy and forced. But within minutes, something special happens; we begin to get caught up in the narrative. Now, narrative (story), for you younger readers, is an element that was once the dominate ingredient in movie-making. This was before CGI and comic book concepts became cinematic overlords. So, its nice to again see an involving tale, one where you grow to care about the lead characters and their fates. At the same time, the film extols biblical principles and addresses nagging spiritual questions. This is something I seldom see in theatrical releases. And I mean very seldom.

Kirk Cameron gives the most mature, complex performance of his career. Like Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey, Camerons Caleb Holt is a good man, but a real one, one with flaws and foibles. Cameron is willing to display negative traits that seldom take focus in movie protagonists. Supported by Erin Bethea's three-dimensional portrait as the firefighter's wife, Kirk and company approach an important issue: the sanctity of marriage. In a culture that promotes the quick disposal of friendships and marriages at the first hint of dissatisfaction, here is a movie that declares life-long unions are worth fighting for.

Marriage is more than a contract, according to the film, its a covenant. And that word covenant suggests a spiritual, life-long and consecrated commitment. Here, that theme is driven home, not in an attempt to rebuke those who have already been blinded long enough to forsake their I Dos, but to aid other couples in danger of losing their own 20-20 focus.

There are legitimate reasons for the ending of a marriage. The Bible says so. But many trying to develop a spiritual relationship with the Holy Trinity can be haunted by an unnecessary divorce. Those involved in this production seek to aid others facing this epidemic of spiritual blindness.

There will be those who wish they had known of "The Love Dare" before rushing out of their marital unions. Sadly for them, the deed is done. They should remember, however, that God loves them as before and forgives their contrite hearts. Again, the Bible says so. But I pray each married couple will take their own Love Dare. The alternative to nurturing and protecting your marriage can be a painful and lasting one. For while God forgives, life doesn't.

- Phil Boatwright, divorced

Note: "The Love Dare" book: It's a plot device, it's a book, it's a marriage saver, it's a movement, says John Thompson, vice president of marketing for the books publisher, B&H Publishing Group. This is the fastest-selling book weve ever handled. Learn more at www.LoveDareBook.com.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Provident Films, Sony Pictures

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: None
Violence: Intense fire sequences
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: None
Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Teens and Above

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