Fireproof: *1/2 for Filmmaking Quality, **** for Enjoyment
I was prepared to loathe this movie because it is a so-called "Christian" movie. "Let us make a movie for the 'lost' masses," I knew it would say. "They will see it and say, 'Ah, alas. There ist he error of my ways. Now I will become Kirk Cameron's disciple."
As films go, the writing, the acting, and the direction are all really pretty rickety. Watching it was a bit like watching a baby take its first steps. I kept expecting it to topple over and get rugburn. But it never did. It just ambled awkwardly along and left all sorts of directorial don'ts in its wake like a trail of parts from poorly assembled car.
The dialog was superficial and unrealistic: "Hi honey. How are you?" "I am fine. It is really tough having a Mom who has been incapacitated by a stroke, don't you think?" "Yes. I do. Strokes are bad." Different strokes for different folks, maybe, but no cinematic stroke of good fortune could possible make up for this first-time screenwriting effort. (I could also throw in a joke about heat stroke since the film is about a fireman, but I will refrain.)
That being said, I loved "Fireproof." What it lacked in production values, it made up for in heart. It is rare that a deficiency in quality can be made up for with fuzzy-wuzzy goodness, and without the sort of accompanying resentment that comes with emotional manipulation. All that being said, it was definitely emotionally manipulative, and it was fuzzy-wuzzy. But shining between the cracks in its construction, I saw a lot of light and goodness that reminded me that God's love matters in this rickety world that totters back and forth like a child taking its first steps, or a drunken man stumbling headlong down the street. Marriage matters, and it matters a hell of a lot. Relationships matter because we exist in relation to God, and our relationship with those around us says a lot about our relationship with Him. There is a lot of good in this movie even if it is terrible. I enjoyed this terrible Christian commercial vehicle, and I suspect that the people who assembled it meant well. I received it well, probably much as God will someday receive me in my rickety state. When I finally topple over into His arms, I hope he can say, "Well, your life was one-and-a-half stars, but you gave four-stars worth of heart."
Here's to enjoying terrible films...