If you’re looking for great acting, snappy dialogue, high production values, and Shia LeBeouf…this isn’t your movie.  Obviously, it isn’t going to win an Oscar.

But I really liked it.

Hey! it's steak!
Hey! it's steak!

It’s kind of weird watching a movie and realizing that its greatest strength isn’t the way it tells a story but rather the story it is telling.  It takes a few minutes to realize that it’s a different sort of movie you’re watching.  It’s kind of like the difference between eating cotton candy and chewing on a steak.  Cotton candy is sugary and delicious, but it’s not the sort of thing you’d eat for dinner unless you are Will Ferrell in Elf.  Steak, on the other hand, fills your hungry belly with its juicy goodness.  And even if it’s not the best cut of meat…hey! it’s steak!

In this movie starring Kirk Cameron as a firefighter whose marriage is falling apart, the steak was seasoned well enough that it didn’t distract from the message.  And as I watched, I appreciated how radical that message was.  I mean, check out some of the things it taught about marriage:

  • Love is not a feeling; it’s a choice.
  • The kind of love required by a failing marriage requires you to first know the love of Christ.
  • A husband should become a student of his wife, learning everything he can about her.
  • You should show love to your spouse even if you are rejected over and over again.
Better for you than Asbestos!
Better for you than Asbestos!

Now when was the last time you saw anything like that in a movie?  I’m convinced that any other relationship flick would seem shallow—all style and no substance—if you watched it immediately after this one.  Even if it were to offer helpful advice on marriage, it could never match the wisdom from God’s Word that this movie draws on.  I’ll admit I was worried that Fireproof would dumb down the gospel and the Christian worldview into a mushy mess.  Instead, it showed the power and wisdom that only comes from a biblical perspective on life and marriage.  Kirk’s (or rather, his character’s) conversion to Christianity was the foundation for saving his marriage, not a happy feel-good scene tacked onto the end.  And the road to recovery wasn’t Candyland but rather a journey of rejection, failure, pain, and sacrifice.  Kinda like real life.

Also kinda like real life, this movie thwarted the usual Hollywood convention by including both major and minor characters who didn’t look like the glamorous menagerie of celebrities that grace the covers of gossip magazines.  It was weird watching a movie and realizing, Hey, this could actually happen to real people.  Unlike, say, Eagle Eye.

So now, the obligatory rating.  The system:

  • I would pay money to see it again ($$$$).
  • I would see it again if someone gave me a free ticket ($$$).
  • I wouldn’t see it again even if someone gave me a free ticket ($$).
  • I wouldn’t see it again even if someone paid me to go ($).

Fireproof lands my second-ever rating of $$$$ (four dollars).  Solid!  I hereby forgive Kirk Cameron for starring in the Left Behind movies.