By Sean Burns
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 39 | Posted Oct. 8, 2008

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How the hell has a Kirk Cameron marital drama landed in the box office top 10? Well, for starters, hell's got nothing to do with it, as the inexcusably popular Fireproof was produced by the Sherwood Baptist Church, a canny outfit operating out of Albany, Ga.

Dedicated to preserving the sacred covenant between a man and a woman before God, this comically misguided mess stars former Growing Pains goofball turned-even-goofier End-of-Days poster boy Cameron as a hardass fireman, addicted to Internet porn and prone to paroxysms of rage every time his long-suffering wife (Erin Bethea) asks him to do the dishes or pick up his own dry cleaning.



Incensed by such outlandish requests, the former Mike Seaver spends an enormous amount of screen time fulminating about "respect" and beating on garbage cans with a baseball bat until she finally comes to her senses and demands a divorce.

But his beatific dad (Harris Malcolm) rides to the rescue. Posing forlorn before a large wooden cross inexplicably located in the woods behind Cameron's house, Pa sells him on a program called "The Love Dare." Conveniently available for purchase on the movie's official website, this manual employs selected Scripture passages to make husbands do all sorts of crazy things--like offering your wife a cup of coffee or even asking about her day. People like Kirk Cameron apparently require written instructions on how not to act like an asshole.

Oh yeah, and at some point in this process you must also fall to your knees and beg for the forgiveness of our lord and savior Jesus Christ. Because you really need His help to stop being a complete dick to your wife.

What's fascinating about Fireproof, beyond the grassroots bulk-ticket-buying "Church Action Squads" that made it such a phenomenon, is that in no way do the spouse's feelings ever once enter into this equation. The film depicts marriage as a man's obligation to God. In retrospect, that new Bill Maher movie doesn't seem so crummy.

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Comments 1 - 39 of 39
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1. tad said... on Nov 2, 2008 at 09:04PM

“Sean, you sound like a complete jerk. If you want to be a God hater thats your choice, but don't call a man goofy for being a dedicated man of God who is allowing the holy spirit to become a better man in this word. A more Godly man. Thats not goofy but awesome. You sound like a goofy poster child for a media gone atheist and Godless. Remember, you will stand before Christ and he will say depart from me Unless you too will repent.”

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2. Darrell Peters said... on Nov 3, 2008 at 01:21PM

“Why is it so threatening to have a movie that is about God instead of one that slams God?”

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3. Mike said... on Nov 3, 2008 at 06:27PM

“What I find "fascinating" is that so many marriages end because of "feelings" or a lack of the "Hollywood" idea of love and feelings. If more people would understand that by living to please God in all they do, including how they love and respect their spouse, divorce would truly be a four-letter word. With a commitment to God first you can not help but have a truly fullfilling and successful marriage. Marriage is about an "obligation" to God. Answer me this, where did the concept of marriage come from? Who invented it anyway? Oh yeah, that's right, it was the one and only GOD himself.”

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4. Shawn Litson said... on Nov 4, 2008 at 03:20PM

“Sean, I hope that some how this movies message hits you hard in your sleep as the tomato juice joke hit the cadet in his. You sound so much like Cameron in this movie it's almost as if you are him. Thinking that you are perfect and everyone else is at fault. My marriage is falling apart. Today is nine days away from our divorce trial. I was Cameron. And yes it did take falling to my knees figuratively and spiritually to understand where I was. No it did not take a love dare to figure that out nor did it take this movie. But this movie could be an eye opener to someone. If one marriage is saved due to the content of this movie...then it is a success. My hat goes off to all that stood their ground and made this movie even in our current culture that views marriage and God as a myth.”

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5. MEL said... on Nov 7, 2008 at 01:04PM


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6. Stephanie said... on Nov 8, 2008 at 03:18PM

“"Because you really need His help to stop being a complete dick to your wife. " Actually, that kind of is the point. And a very astute point for you to make. We're human, we screw up a lot, and we daily have to overcome a desire to do the wrong thing. It's only though the grace of God that we are able to do good things at all.”

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7. Howard said... on Nov 9, 2008 at 04:00AM

“Only one of the comments posted even tangentially references the movie - have you seen this movie that was so badly written, acted and filmed that I had to step outside laughing? The main point Sean was making in his review, which I agree with, is that Caleb's (K. Cameron's character) problems are so simple and basic that they don't even rise to the level of choosing between Christian vs. other attitudes/behaviors. Caleb is a childish jerk who seems to hate women - being or becoming a Christian is not a prerequisite to being a decent person. If the movie/script had dug in a little and created a character who had a more complicated set of problems, then it might have led to a serious decision/choice to be made in terms of a Christian vs. non-Christian answer. The primary problem with this movie (and there are many) is that it oversimplifies (beyond recognition) any real person's life and circumstances and sets up a "strawman" argument (of how a husband should *not* act towards his wife) that Christian advocates (and all other halfway-intelligent people) can knock down with virtually no effort at all. The problem with any strawman argument, though, is it is transparently easy to defeat and consequently carries no weight at all. This may be hard to believe, but I know quite a few people who are not Christian (or at least are Christian in name but not regular practice) who manage to treat their spouses reasonably well and stay married. Being a decent person does not require any religious influence, although it can certainly help and guide a person towards that end.”

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8. tad said... on Nov 9, 2008 at 09:17PM

“Howard, if you you dont have a God your accountable to then this is all a free for all and whats the point. Do what ever you want.”

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9. Allan said... on Nov 11, 2008 at 04:52PM

“Be serious Sean. Do you really think it was that bad. I sense an agenda, for you "doth protest too much"”

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10. mike said... on Dec 13, 2008 at 03:04PM

“Sean, When art tries to preach and loses it's credibility. the only exception i can think of is art that polictical (even that is super rare) I haven't seen the movie and after reading your review and others like it I won't waste my time or money. There are tons of great christians who make amazing art. Awesome writers like J.R. Tolken, C.S. Lewis, and the guys from pixar. Those guys have God given creativity and blessed the world with some of the best stories and entertainment. The writers and producers of Fireproof missed the mark. Christians believes God is the source of all creativity. The greats I mentioned never preached in their art, but their work was overflowing in Godly themes and honorable characters. At the same time you don't have to be Christian to write stories, make art, or music that is God inspired. God is the author of the universe, earth, nature, everything. there, get inspired, make something God like. ”

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11. Tony Bloom said... on Dec 29, 2008 at 01:27AM

“A near-worthless review. The review is more a tirade than a constructive overview. Very unprofessional: I've red more informative blogs. ”

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12. Was this even a review? said... on Jan 8, 2009 at 11:29PM

“I am utterly astonished, Sean Burns. What all did you expect out of this movie? It seems to me that your goal is to bash Christianity. I'm not sure if anyone else noticed this, but your review seems to be more of an outcry against Kirk Cameron than a... well... movie review. If you bite into a jalapeno pepper, do you really not expect it to be spicy?”

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13. Eggs said... on Jan 9, 2009 at 04:30PM

“Funny.... my boyfriend and I are atheists, and we treat each other just right. Isn't that strange? Must be the out-of-wedlock sex that does it. Anyway, if a movie is LEGITIMATE art with Christian messages, fine, great, I'd love to see it. I read/listen to/watch works by Christian artists who put the art first and allow Christianity to influence it. Not use art as a cheap hitch to push their religion - which is what Fireproof is. Sad, and disrespectful to both art and religion.”

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14. Kourou said... on Jan 19, 2009 at 01:51PM

“Hi there people bashing Sean for criticising this pro-Christian movie - did you know that the website "Rotten Tomatoes," which I found this review through, gave the film a 39% rating? Which means that reviewers generally didn't like it. Maybe there's more to Sean's review than his simply wanting to crush Christanity - maybe he just saw a lousy movie. ”

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15. ken830 said... on Jan 27, 2009 at 12:56PM

“Quoting TAD: "Howard, if you you dont have a God your accountable to then this is all a free for all and whats the point. Do what ever you want.:" That's the point exactly. Without God, I can do whatever I want. And I want to be good, honest, kind, and compassionate. I want to do this for myself, for my family, for my friends, and for society. Yes, even for you. I hope you come to realize that there are good people that do good because they are good. There are bad people that do bad because they are bad. And then there are bad people that do good because they are afraid. That doesn't make them good people.”

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16. Brittani said... on Jan 30, 2009 at 07:30PM

“Crazy Things? Those Are Things That A Man Should WANT To Do For His Wife. How About You Stop Dissing The Christian Movies Out There And Actually Take Them For What Their Worth. These Movies Are Made For People Like You. Immoral Sinners Who Need God In Their Life. Kirk Cameron Was Once An Athiest And Now He Is Reaching Out And Helping To Change More Peoples Lives That You Ever Thought About Reaching. ”

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17. Kerric said... on Feb 2, 2009 at 11:26AM

“The plot of this movie resembles or is close to reality for droves of people. You are out of touch with mainstream America. This movie hits close to home for millions and will no doubt save marriages.”

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18. Ryan said... on Feb 4, 2009 at 11:10AM

“Brittani, "How About You Stop Dissing The Christian Movies Out There And Actually Take Them For What Their Worth?" There is no value in this movie, the plot is horrible, the characters are not developed, the acting is atrocious, and the message is extremely weak unless you feel that you should do nothing to offend your make believe and mystical god... or you will be punished. To imply that only the religious will have a successful marriage is ludicrous, it doesn't take "god" to make a marriage work. Instead it takes respect, commitment, love, communication, and understanding to name a few, god doesn't factor into the equation. One other thing Brittani, if you are going to try and get your message across in a serious fashion; learn how to present your message in a proper format. In typing you only capitalize the proper nouns and the beginning of each sentence, not every word.”

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19. Logan said... on Feb 5, 2009 at 01:50PM

“if it's a shitty's a shitty movie. This is a critique on a movie...not God...just because a guy doesn't like a Christian movie, that doesn't make him a heathen. That's just absolute stupidity.”

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20. for christ said... on Feb 7, 2009 at 05:43PM

“Fireproof was an wonderful movie about how God can change peoples lives if we let him into our lives Iv'e been a Christian for a long time and I would not change it for the world I am looking forward to Heaven one day .Kirk Cameron is doing what God would want him to do he will be rewarded for that one day.”

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21. re: Eggs said... on Feb 8, 2009 at 05:55PM

“funny...... the last time I checked this movie is about troubles that face in marriges if God is not in the center, not about troubles that face highschool couples. Sure things may be fine right now becouse u are not married to him but in the long run if Gods mercy and grace are not in your marriage than your marriage can become a constant fight and misunderstandment that can eventually lead to divorce or both sides just getting use to the constant misery and living with it. This movie is true withought God we live our lives with a hole in our hearts. some will choose will choose to fill it and others live their entier lifes not even knowing its their.”

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22. mikeo7781 said... on Feb 21, 2009 at 07:18PM

“thank you for an honest review - one that isn't blinded by fear that Almighty God will smite thee for discrediting the work of his dear, dear children. "who cares if it's horribly acted and scripted, and focuses solely on gender stereotypes? it's about JESUS!!!" ugh. your sarcastic barbs are right on, too - this movie should really just be called "don't be a dick to your wife and she won't want a divorce." ”

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23. James said... on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:06PM

“Very helpful review...thank you.”

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24. Jeff said... on Feb 22, 2009 at 09:42PM

“"What I find "fascinating" is that so many marriages end because of "feelings" or a lack of the "Hollywood" idea of love and feelings." And it's even more amazing that all his overtures to his wife were about........wait for it..........feelings! Why didn't he give her a good book or quote scripture about wives submitting to their husbands (in all things except an outright sin)? Pardon me, I'm getting ahead of the conversion. In the end, the movie did not focus on the main character's inner struggles and inabilities to communicate - mostly caused by their defensiveness. The movie attempts to peel away the layers of the onion in one fell swoop with a religious experience. I'd like to check in on them in 5 years to see if the role playing has really helped them develop intimacy.”

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25. BT said... on Mar 3, 2009 at 06:52AM

“The movie is amateurish. The film makers have not produced anything beyond a hallmark channel film. However, I can relate to the character of Caleb. My marriage has experienced many of the same issues. Impressing film buffs is not the point. Creating a drama that can help marriages is the point. This movie is going to help my marriage. Thank you to all who made the movie. The bottom line is that the movie deals with real life marriage issues. It is an honest film from the perspective ot the film makers. They are not trying to win an academy award. Criticism is well-deserved. The film has many problems, but let's not berate a bunch of church volunteers with no real professional film experience.”

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26. samik said... on Mar 3, 2009 at 01:50PM

“OH boy. With half of the marraiges in America ending in divorce, how can you be so cynical. Despite it's problems, which you will find in almost every movie made, it actually shows a different way to deal with marital problems as opposed to giving up and joining the millions of unhappy divorcee's. I applaude this group of filmakers for their bold handling of an epidemic that is destroying our nation. A movie doesn't have to be perfectly written, cast, produced etc. to make a powerful statement. There are so many "amazing" movies out there that are nothing but crap wrapped up in fancy paper. ”

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27. s4awd said... on Mar 17, 2009 at 09:36AM

“The guy was just hungry. At least leave the poor guy some breakfast. He won't be angry all the time.”

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28. Anonymous said... on Mar 22, 2009 at 03:35AM

“It's not uncommon for people to treat the ones they are closest to, the worst. Yes, sometimes regular people need a reminder. . .

And yes, isn't it quaint that the spouse's "feelings" aren't the central issue. That maybe marriage as an institution is something to be defended and upheld, even when "feelings" fade. Isn't it a quaint idea that married people should actually keep their promises about "better and worse, good times and bad". Even if they don't "feel like it."”

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29. Hillari said... on Jun 11, 2009 at 12:32PM

“Poorly written and acted movie full of stereotypes. Did you catch the African-American female characters rolling their necks and eyes and being sassy. The fat fire station recruit being used as the butt of jokes? The downgrading of women, especially how Caleb acted towards his mother. His mother also came off as some submissive person with little thought of her own other than obeying every word of her husband. Yes, there should be faith-based movies, but please, they need to be better packaged than this! This movie insults thinking people's intelligence big time.”

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30. Andro Gyneme said... on Jul 2, 2009 at 02:09PM

“I read this thread for the lulz. Hilarious. This movie absolutely sucked and was an insult to the intelligence of the viewer. Intelligent ones, anyway.”

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31. fiveagainstone said... on Nov 16, 2009 at 01:12AM

“Let's face it: the problem is not the message but the movie itself. The story is bad, the characters are not sympathetic, the acting is atrocious. It doesn't reflect on the ups and downs of marriage. And why is the husband the one that has to repent when the wife is no saint either? It takes two to make a marriage work, but you wouldn't know it from this film.”

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32. umyeah said... on Nov 20, 2009 at 10:32AM

“Fantastic Review. Although as funny as it was, it can't compete with how laughable this film is. It's so hard being so close minded and ignorant, I hope one day I see the light. Maybe just maybe a craptastic Kirk Cameron film will change my life.”

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33. Dennis said... on Nov 22, 2009 at 07:18PM

“People who write against this film are obviously turned off by its Christian theme. Thus the plot is called stupid and the acting is denounced as poor, although the contrary may be the truth. I personally found "Fireproof" personally uplifting and a welcome relief from the vast majority of films produced by Hollywood. I applaud Kirk Cameron and the other actors who had the courage to make this film, no matter how other people may ridicule or denounce them.”

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34. Yes. said... on Jan 6, 2010 at 11:27PM

“It's not hard:

Message of movie: good
Actual movie: bad

No need to get all bent out of shape.”

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35. Wade Redden said... on Jan 26, 2010 at 08:25PM

“Does anyone here realize Sean Burns gave Passion of the Christ an 'A'? Oh yea, I forgot that movie hated condemned Christianity...what a bunch of dickheads.”

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36. devoted said... on Feb 17, 2010 at 11:19PM

“If people are going to make a review they should concentrate on the movies worth and have the intelligence to watch it first. I however did watch so mentioned movie and felt that it was intelligent, informative,and entertaining. As for this so called to simple format, sometimes simple is the only way. By the way I did not appreciate the cussing. Remember kids do go online. I feel that this will be a blessing to many. Try to be more open minded and hearted; you mite be suprised.”

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37. not devoted said... on Feb 24, 2010 at 01:52PM


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38. Joe Mama said... on Dec 2, 2010 at 03:29PM

“Funny how everyone on here bashing Sean for not liking the movie is doing so for religious reasons. Like it's blasphemy to say that this is a bad movie, which it most certainly is. Yes, the preaching is too way over the top, but even without trying to give the message that you have to be a born-again to have a good marriage (when in reality they have higher divorce rates), the acting and script were totally horrible. Why can't Christians make a good movie?”

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39. Anonymous said... on Jan 19, 2014 at 09:41PM

“This movie is a joke! Lol!”


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