When Capt. Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron) decides to divorce his Sarah Palin–type wife, his bros at the firehouse come to his rescue with words of wisdom swiped from the Hallmark section at Rite Aid: “You never leave your partner—especially during a fire.” With advice like that, it’s no wonder Caleb turns to Jesus. Naturally, director Alex Kendrick’s style suggests a pharmaceutical commercial—especially in the scenes of Caleb and his father plodding through the woods toward a creepily and strategically placed cross—because what else is Fireproof selling if not a drug? But before it even mentions God, the film works sweetly as a chronicle of a man trying to extend the courage he brings to the job to saving his marriage, mainly by following a 40-day experiment called “the Love Dare” that necessitates being kind to his wife Catherine (Erin Bethea) and, ultimately, unkind to himself—by giving up his dream of owning a boat, and by beating the shit out of his computer for teasing him with a pornographic pop-up ad. Then the film gets all religulous, suggesting that Caleb’s devotion to healing means nothing without Jesus—and so Fireproofstops being resonant with us all and appeals instead only to the already (or easily) indoctrinated.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 1, 2008