A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that a powerful grassroots marketing campaign has helped turn this Christian-themed indie drama about a fireman with a troubled marriage into a hit. While the content is age-appropriate for older tweens and up, the marriage-centric story isn't likely to interest them. The plot includes mention of online porn (it's frowned on, of course), but viewers don't really see anything salacious. Marriage is portrayed as tough and often devoid of love, affection, or respect, but something that Christians are expected to endure anyway. Non-Christian viewers might be uncomfortable with some of the movie's dialogue and themes; on the flipside, at least it skips some of the raw language and sex in other Hollywood firefighting movies (like Backdraft).
- Parents say
- Kids say
Great for married couples, as well as for those who are just starting to date for the first time. Enjoyable to other audiences as well.
What's the story?
Caleb (Kirk Cameron) is the heroic chief of a Georgia firehouse. But at home, in a failing two-career marriage, he feels like he's in the doghouse. His wife, hospital administrator Catherine (Erin Bethea), doesn't show him much affection or respect; in fact, she's secretly attracted to a doctor at work, while Caleb's been caught more than once looking at online pornography. Proud and hot-tempered, Caleb isn't religious, but his father is, so he mails his son a handmade "love dare" book -- a 40-day plan, with Bible quotes in the margins, to do nice things for Catherine no matter how much she pushes him away.
Is it any good?
Despite FIREPROOF's core positive message, the acting is fairly weak, and the production values are rough around the edges. And even though much of it takes place in a firehouse, there's more talking than rescue action. And some non-religious viewers might be put off by the film's evangelical Christian roots. It's not enough for Caleb to give up his dirty Web surfing and learn to shop, sweep, and do the dishes; in order to earn Catherine's devotion, he must be born again, and the script doesn't make things very easy for him -- the burden is on him to turn the other cheek as Catherine spurns him again and again, with nobody calling her on her own questionable behavior.
All of that said, the film (which was made by the same pastors/filmmakers behind Facing the Giants) earns realism points for frankly acknowledging that marriage can be difficult and even bleak at times. And nobody here is perfect; even characters who mentor Caleb admit to grievous past sins.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's messages about marriage. Talk about the concept of "unconditional love" -- what exactly does that mean? How do different groups (religious or otherwise) feel about divorce? Do you have to be a Christian to understand or appreciate what this movie is saying about marriage and life in general?
- In theaters: September 26, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: January 27, 2009
- Cast: Erin Bethea, Ken Bevel, Kirk Cameron
- Director: Alex Kendrick
- Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Company
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 121 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic material and some peril.
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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