Fireproof is the latest film from Sherwood Pictures, which brought us Flywheel (2003) and Facing the Giants (2006). The film company is a part of Sherwood Baptist Church, which director Alex Kendrick is currently the pastor of.
Fireproof tells the story of Caleb and Catherine Holt, a couple whose marriage is starting to fall apart. Caleb is captain of the fire department and has his own personal demons to face. Catherine works in public relations at the hospital and has to deal with the flirtatious advances of one of the doctors there. Tensions rise between the couple and escalate into a threatening divorce.
Caleb’s father, played by Harris Malcolm, advises Caleb to try to save his marriage by following the directions of “The Love Dare”, a workbook of sorts in which the reader is assigned one task per day for 40 days.
The Kendrick’s have written a heartfelt story that succeeds as a wonderful look at what it means to love, both between married couples and also in a more personal relationship with God.
While being a film that deals with weighty issues, Fireproof balances the seriousness with a healthy dose of humor. This is largely due to the supporting characters in the film. I especially liked the interactions between Caleb and his next-door neighbor, Mr. Rudolph. It’s a recurring gag that works very well.
There is also a good amount of firefighting scenes that, while reminiscent of other firefighting films, such as Ladder 49, keep Fireproof alive. Between the drama, humor, and action, there is a rhythmic quality to the film.
I haven’t seen Kendrick’s previous films, so I can’t compare Fireproof to them. I have heard from people who have, however, and have remarked that the productions values seem to have increased. The overall quality looks good and the camera is operated well.
At times, though, Fireproof feels more like an after school special than a feature film. There are times when the dialogue feels too forward and rehearsed; one scene in particular that deals with a character’s faith in God comes to mind. While there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a scene like that, it ends up feeling more like someone reading from a tract, or in this case, a script.
Although the actors were better than I had previously expected, you can tell that it’s a predominately non-professional cast. I understand that they’re working with that they have and that it ends up saving a lot of money, but it definitely shows from time to time.
Aside from some of the issues that I had with Fireproof, it’s a film that I recommend watching. It’s smart, fun, and has a lot to say about love and marriage; something we can all learn more about.
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