Saturday, August 8, 2009

Divorces happen, get over it

Fireproof | dir. Alex Kentrick | rel. 2008 | 2.5/5

I try not to reveal details about my more personal life on this blog, but since the film that I'm about to discuss does touch upon a certain detail about my faith, the subject seems appropriate.

I'm a self-described on-again, off-again Christian. For the past few years, I've been a little more like Gandhi when it comes to Christianity; Gandhi once said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

I've been going back to church in the past few months in hopes of well, improving my life one way or another, and honestly, I've never felt so isolated, lonely, and frustrated in my entire life. The people there are certainly nice, but they all go to the same schools, have the same interests, and I can't seem to connect to them on a more friendly, personal level. I don't know if it's because I'm such a hard shell to crack or I just hate hiking, camping, and attending dinner parties with people I don't feel completely comfortable with.

I think what I'm trying to say is that I've associated with Christians for my entire life. The ones who aren't crazy are generally nice people who just want everyone to be friends and love each other. The ones that are crazy think Bush is a great president just because Bush claims that he loves God. My own mom is a devoted, socially conservative Christian and I love her, despite our differences.

But ultra-conservative Christians can't seem to keep up with the modern world. Things change, and sometimes I wish The Bible is as open to interpretation as the United States Constitution. Many Christians don't think so, although what they believe is what they believe. They have the right to exercise their freedoms and no one has to force them to change their minds.

Although we can all appeal to them and beg them to reconsider--and we'll have to do that again and again. They're a tough crowd...

I'm not trying to tackle any of the star controversial issue (gay marriage, abortion) but something much simpler: divorce. Yes, divorce. I don't understand why divorce is so wrong in the grand scheme of things. There is actually a small snippet in the Book of Matthews that discusses how horrible divorce is and I simply don't understand. My parents were divorced when I was very young and I've always thought it was rather fitting. I guess it would've been nice if I were raised in a nice, happy family, but shit happens--not just in my life, but in stormy marriages that were just not meant to last.

This brings me to the church-funded movie, Fireproof, a piece of Christian propaganda opposing divorce. It's about a married couple played by Kirk Cameron (yes, the kid from Growing Pains) and Erin Bethea who just fight all the time about the most stupidest of things; the wife complains that the husband's always looking at dirty images on the Internet and saving up for a boat they don't need when they could be using the money for repainting the back door and the husband complains that the wife nags too much about everything.

So it obviously seems that this couple are headed for a divorce. The wife is the PR of a local hospital and she is even being wooed by a nice doctor--so why bother staying in an awful marriage to a constantly pissed off firefighter? But the husband's father comes to the save the day by putting the husband on a "love dare"--a project that will save the marriage. The project puts the husband on a 40-day (lol why couldn't they name Kirk Cameron's character Noah?) journey of tips on how to save the marriage. Tips include not saying negative things, doing nice things, planning a nice dinner, etc. for each of the forty days. After a magical talk with his father, the husband immediately converts to Christianity. It's nice how miracles work.

Having the husband as a dedicated firefighter allows the writers of this film to include some horrible analogies of the responsibilities of a firefighter and the responsibilities of a spouse. And they are all relentlessly cheesy and lame. Halfway through this movie, My Mom The Christian actually turned to me and said, "This movie is a lot like a Hallmark movie," a genre that we've often made fun of since our viewing of Loving Leah.

But what bothers me about my mom and the bulk of Christians (even more than the fact that they think God wanted Bush to be president) is that they think a movie is immediately 200% more awesome if God is somehow positively involved in the plot as the central moral compass. There are some great movies where God plays a positive role, such as The Ten Commandments and The King of Kings, but why must they flock the theaters to witness something as meritless and lame as Fireproof?

I mean, it's not like Fireproof was directed by God, anyway.

Fireproof offers nothing refreshing about "saving" a marriage. It's an amateur, yet admirable, piece of filmmaking. The "admirable" part comes from the fact that it was made with a relatively low budget--but that's about it. The script is a Hallmark rip-off and the acting is stiff and laughable. The comedic moments are well, amusing, to say the least, but there is one scene that I can't get out of my mind...

There is this scene where the husband (I can't even bother to IMDb their names, so I'll just call him Kirk Cameron) is surfing the net and checking out boats (his fave hobby) and this random ad with this girl pops up on screen with the words "Wanna See?" underneath. Since he's a fan of pornography, he has this amazing internal struggle. He walks away from the computer, opens his "love dare" book and it says that he has to resist temptations such as pornography. So Kirk Cameron has no idea what to do.


As you can probably tell, I LOVE this scene. I couldn't stop laughing. It's probably THE funniest scene I've ever seen. I mean, he could've saved the computers to download Christian rock songs and sermons off the Internet but NO he chose to annihilate his entire computer!!!

Watch the entire moral dilemma unfold here:

I think I actually wrote everything preceding this video just because I wanted to build up to the climatic moment that IS THIS VIDEO. The entire scene is actually more hilarious (with the neighbors watching) but this video really builds up all the intensity that makes the scene awesomely...bad and amazing at the same time. Because it's unlikely I'll find anything funnier than this.

Anyway, I think I kind of love Fireproof the same way I kind of love the "Bet On It" scene in High School Musical 2. Fireproof reminds me of the videos I had to watch in my freshmen year health class. It's an uncomfortable film to sit through, has way too many random montages set to random Christian rock songs, and it doesn't enlighten its audience with anything new. The Kendricks Bros. (who also made two other Christian-centric movies) probably had their heart in the right place, but this film is so cliched-muddled, lame, unintentionally hilarious, and to top it off, a message that is so backwards, that no scene ever feels truly genuine.

Even as the end credits roll, I still believe that well, DIVORCES HAPPEN, GET OVER IT.

But this film is so funny...I just CAN'T GIVE IT A BAD RATING. So I'm just going to do some sort of a weird breakdown:


Okay, that brings my total down to a 6.5/10...pretty impressive (a 2.5 on the 5 star scale). Anyway, I kind of want to watch this movie for my next hypothetical slumber party. I would love to do a commentary throughout this movie because that's all I did last summer on AIM with my friend with the "Bet On It" Youtube video.

So anyway...why am I so lame again?


  1. hmmn. I'm kind of in the same situation as you. I'm a christian, but an incredibly liberal one. like really liberal - I'm not a creationist, I support gay marriage and in my opinion, women should never be subserviant to men. this does tend to mean though that I don't really fit in anywhere - which is kind of frustrating. but yeah. one of the things I do find annoying about christians is, like you said, the way they think anything with the word god in it is automatically 10000 times better than anything without. like the way girls in my old school used to say: as a christian, you shouldn't be mean to other people or something. it's like no. as a NICE PERSON you shouldn't be mean to other people. jeeeezz, christians aren't the only people with a moral compass!! so yeah, point being, I know where you're coming from, and I would probably find this film as unintentionally hilarious and dumb as you did. And that scene, good lord. that was awful. I loved the use of dramatic music as he stares at his computer - it's amazing that something so stupid can take itself so seriously. megalolz.

  2. The question is: Are there couples who get a divorce who shouldn't have, and maybe even later regret it? Of course. (I've met many.)

    The movie is aimed at those people That's why it's a good movie and a good story. I loved "Fireproof".

    You'd be hard pressed to find people and children who have gone through a divorce who will shout "It was wonderful!"

  3. @Anahita - I'm in total agreement with you. I don't think God would like to be marketed. I believe some people could have a perfectly good moral compass without being Christians, though. Christianity has become more about merely having faith in God, not being a good person. I know some Christians who aren't very good people at all.

    @Anonymous - The problem with Fireproof is that it doesn't offer any new insights on how to save a marriage. It's the same old thing, nothing original. I guess it does give hope to couples who are considering divorce, but some of the things that are showcased in the movie don't seem to have the potential for totally lasting effects. And I feel like they're creating an entire market out of the movie as well...I mean, selling copies of THE LOVE DARE?

    And another problem about is that real people who ARE heading toward a divorce have more problems than the childlike quarrels of the couple in Fireproof. People change and fall out of love with their spouse. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Although their separation may cause adverse effects to the children they've raised, it's something that happens and the family just have to deal with it with as much sanity as possible.

    I'm not saying that not all problems in a marriage are not preventable, but I guess I'm also saying that there are some problems that are hopeless. Fireproof has an interesting central concept, but it doesn't teach its viewers anything new. It's cheesy, overly sentimental, and predictable. The "advice" given to the husband through the book is something I can write after watching several standard Hollywood rom-coms.

    I hope I wasn't too rude about my views about the movie, but I'm simply in complete disagreement with you. But that's life. I'm glad that you enjoyed the movie (my mom did too) because like I said, this movie did have its heart in the right place.

  4. To some extent I would say that there's a decent message deep down here. There are times when it's good for couples to work through their problems (and since the problems of Kirk Cameron and the lady who looks like one of the actresses on SNL, but isn't) are obviously fake they should be worked through, although that wouldn't really provide any couples in the real world of real issues (unless they've become convinced by bad movies like this that their problems are really that cliche) may find things a little less black and white. Marriage is a challenge, but in a deeply existential, unpredictable and inexpressible way. I agree with Marcy here, there's a profoundness to the problems dealt with in ANY marriage that are simply more deep than what this even begins to portray... And divorce is probably one of the more waning areas of condemnation in the evangelical church. You'll probably find equally bad Christian romance novels about divorcees finding a good, Christian husband, Christian self help books on recovering divorced couples, etc... More than anything I agree with your second point, the inability of Christians to look beyond the ridiculously bad quality of the film because it has a predictably unadulterated evangelical portrait of Kirk Cameron and his wife becoming saved... I appreciate your "so bad it's good" take on it though. Maybe i'll rent it from the library or something and watch it again with the motivation of having a good laugh.

  5. Oh Damn! That sequence where you describe how nice the people are your church are but yet you can't connect with them is just how I feel at church...and really what the hell is so wrong with divorce. The thing about the Bible and the whole it's open to interpretation is just a euphemism for that fact that it's freaking confusion. Should we believe everything it says point blank? Je ne sais pas. Why do these films try to beat their messages down on her head. It's horrific.

    PS. Glad I came across this blog...

  6. @Encore Entertainment (I would much rather refer to you by your name/nickname rather than your site name!) - I hope things work out for you at church. I'm attending a church dinner party tomorrow and I hope things go well, which really means that I hope that people don't find me too awkward and uncomfortable.

    I wish the Bible was a living, breathing timeless book that can change with the times. And we can interpret that way, but there are fundamentalists everywhere that would completley reject that.

    NO movies should beat their "message" on their audience. It tends to be insulting and often makes everyone feel like they're being treated as an imbecile. And it gets offensive.

    I'm glad you're glad you came across my blog. You have an interesting blog yourself! It's always nice to see other teens up and about in the film blog circuit.

  7. Marcy, I came across your blog from The Mad Hatter's blog. Interesting review. I haven't watched the movie yet, but maybe I will now.

    You mentioned in your original post and when you addressed another's comment that you wished the Bible could change with the times. You haven't really said HOW you would like it to change with the times. My questions to you are: if you could change the bible, what exactly would you make different to modernize it and how would that impact your life and those around you?

  8. @Caralyn - I wish I were much more familiar with the Bible so I can answer your question as thoroughly as possible. So excuse me if I make any errors.

    In Matthew 19, Jesus talks about divorce and how the husband and wife should not separate. And if the man does decide to divorce his wife for reasons other than marital unfaithfulness (and I feel that this has somewhat sexist tones since it implies that the man can divorce his wife if the wife commits adultery--why can't it be the other way around?) and marries another woman, he commits adultery. When I read this passage, I thought it was a very old-fashioned way of thinking because we hardly think this way anymore.

    I don't know if I would like to "modernize" the written word in the Bible because that would be ridiculous. What is written should not be changed. But I do wish that many Christian conservatives are willing to accept more liberal interpretations of the Bible and integrate Christian values in a way that would be welcomed in modern society.

    I think one of the reasons why radical Christians are such polarizing figures is that they're not accepting or understanding of different kinds of people. Many Christians are quick to label certain people. I've seen it happen.

    My views about Christianity tend to change because I'm still young and I'm still learning. It's not a subject that I'm absolutely fluent in and I hope my answer made sense.

  9. I think that perhaps conservative Christians have a hard time with liberal interpretation of the bible because it sometimes allows for sin. God is holy, and thus cannot stand sin. As a result, there will be consequences of sin. I think conservatives recognize it and accept it. BUT...sometimes conservatives can come off NOT as "hate the sin love the sinner" but condemn the sinner, too. Therein lies the rub. We CAN'T accept sin...but we can still love, right? (I think of when my children do something wrong...say hit a sibling...I don't like that they did it, but I still love them and I give them a consequence. THEY want to get away with what they did -- and often justify it. But sin is sin and it cannot be tolerated, even if they don't completely understand WHY it wasn't ok.)

    When I hear people talk about modernizing the bible I can't help but think about Sodom and Gomorrah (remember that story?). Two angels came to visit Lot and ALL the men in the town came to him and wanted to have sex with Lot's visitors. Lot offered his daughters instead. I mean, a whole town of homosexuals? Could that perhaps someday be passed as a possiblilty? How much more modern a story could one want?

    I keep thinking about your post and your answer to me and I came across that Ghandi quote you used. Christians can be quite un-Christ-like, can't we?

    Gosh, I'm at a loss for words! I came across a great short article about what we're talking about. Perhaps when you've got time you'll look it up. I LOVE this ministry and it's really helped me in my walk with God.

    Thanks for the great food for thought. Oftentimes I've blindly followed the crowd, but your post and responses to me have given me much to think about. If you ever want to continue the conversation offline, feel free to email me at xluvmykidsx @ :)

  10. Thoroughly entertaining and insightful review. :D I will most likely never ever see this flick, as I don't think I could take two hours of a movie preaching to me, but it does sound like an unintentional comedy masterpiece. If only everyone saw it that way. But mostly, I just don't want to give Kirk Cameron or the producers any money, though I have thought about making Christian films, even though I'm far from being one, just for the built-in audience. You can take any product, slap a Jesus on there and have an instant market. It's really sad, actually.

    Never seen that Ghandi quote before - excellent line.

  11. Amen, Marcy! Love your post and insight.

  12. @Fletch - I didn't spend a dime on this movie, thank God (really). I was able to get a copy at my local library.

    It is really sad that Christians love anything that has God, Jesus, gospel, etc. on it, no matter how crappy the product is. And it's also really sad that all Christians hate anything that a prominent figure in the faith condemns. The silly Harry Potter controversy comes to mind. They're all just followers of people who think everything is blasphemous.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the review! I actually read that Gandhi quote in a church pamphlet accompanying a sermon about "being Christian."

    @Mrs. Fletch - Glad you enjoyed the review, too! :)

  13. Well, I'm an Atheist with Catholic parents who aren't even practicing. Anyone would love to live in my household because no-one really cares about supposed trivial matters like divorce. I could get five divorces, and my folks would laugh it off like it was a part of my resume.

    Anyhow, I've gotta see this movie! If it's all as unintentionally funny as that clip, of course.

  14. I would have to agree with you on so many different levels. My parents are Christians and they are very similar to the way you described your mom and the other types who flock to see the faith based films such as Fireproof. The sad part is that most of those type of films are so cheesy that I cannot really get into watch the movie. Just listen to the lame music being played on the Yamaha keyboard in the video clip that you embedded in your review. Cheesy! Made me think of the "tenderly emotional" scene in The Truman Show when Truman reunites with his long lost father and the show's director (Christof) demands for the music to be played and the piano player starts pounding away the cheesy music on the keyboard of his electronic piano. As I always say during moments like this.... Velveeta Presents!