Review: Fireproof (2008) starring Kirk Cameron gets 3 stars

13 Feb

Fireproof is a 2008 drama about the appreciation of marriage, & what it takes to keep one going strong.  It came to Blu-ray not long ago, & so it deserved a review.

The film focuses on the rocky relationship of a couple played by Kirk Cameron (from Growing Pains, & Growing Pains‘ spinoffs, movies & TV movies) & Erin Bethea (apparently no relation to Colts free safety Antoine Bethea).  Fireproof starts out a little slow but definitely has some plot twists & a coherent story overall.   There are a couple big action scenes and lots of moments that are laugh out-loud funny even though they probably aren’t supposed to be (but due to the behavior of the actors or the way the scene was set up, they are).  For some reason seeing the actor who plays Cameron’s dad in the film always ready to answer his cordless phone struck me as hilarious (also b/c the dad looked like Senator John McCain).

Kirk Cameron must turn to this John McCain look-alike for advice on how to save his marriage in Fireproof. Where's Dr. Seaver (Alan Thicke) when you need him??

Unfortunately the acting is very average for the most part, and there are times when the lack of background/scene transition music is painfully obvious.  The simplistic sets and very scripted lines early on make the film feel like an instructional video for employee safety at a fire station, & I couldn’t tell if the guy playing the doctor was supposed to be behaving patient, understanding, slick or sleazy – or a little of each.  Regardless, all of these issues work against the film’s quality, but people have to be realistic – this film was clearly done on a low budget.  Given high-dollar disasters like Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest or Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, Fireproof certainly managed to do a lot more with less.

I really appreciate the film’s values and pointers on marriage, but some folks who are spiritual yet not religious may be put off by its repeated focus on “God” or “Jesus” – it’s interesting that the filmmakers realized that morality, love & respect are central to any successful marriage, while organized religion/focus on a higher being is not (meaning the latter is not always emphasized in some successful marriages).  Given the fact that Cameron is a Christian Fundamentalist evangelist, I doubt he is too concerned about the film’s perception outside of his core audience.

Fireproof is an inspiring independent work that every couple in a committed relationship should see for its message – just don’t expect a fast-paced story or top-notch acting – this isn’t Nick Cage in Ghost Rider! (just kidding)

Verdict: 3 stars out of 4 (definitely a rental, buy if you connected with it)

Here’s a brief recap of how The Floor Seats’ 0-4 star rating system breaks down:

0-1 stars: This is an atrocious movie; an insult to film & a waste of your time

1-2 stars: Bad but not awful – avoid unless you’re dying to see it for a particular genre/subject matter/actor’s performance

2.5 stars: Only worth a rental if you really like that genre/subject matter/actor’s performance

3 stars: Definitely worth a rental unless you hate that type of genre/subject matter/actor’s performance

3.5 stars: Very good but not great – this is a film you should definitely rent & even consider buying if you like that genre/subject matter/actor’s performance

4 stars: Outstanding & unforgettable – almost certainly 1 of the top 100 greatest films you’ve ever seen.  Buy with confidence!

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