Fireproof

Not rated yet!
Director
Alex Kendrick
Runtime
2 h 02 min
Release Date
26 September 2008
Genres
Drama
Overview
In Albany, the marriage of Caleb and Catherine Holt is in crisis and they decide to divorce. However, Caleb's father, John, proposes that his son delays their separation process for forty days and follow a procedure called "The Love Dare" to make them love each other again.
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Crosswalk4
Cross Walk



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Earnest Fireproof Could Use More Spark
    Movies DVD Release Date:  January 27, 2009Theatrical Release Date:  September 26, 2008Rating:  PG (for thematic material and some peril)Genre:  DramaRun Time:  122 min.Director:  Alex KendrickActors:  Kirk Cameron, Erin Bethea, Ken Bevel, Bailey Cave, Jason McLeod, Jim McBride, Harris Malcolm, Phyllis Malcolm The Kendrick brothers—writer/director Alex and co-writer Stephen—are becoming a powerful duo in the world of Christian filmmaking. Their earlier film, Facing the Giants, surprised Hollywood insiders by grossing more than $10 million on a budget of just $100,000. A unique release strategy catering to churches showed that the Christian audience—elusive but still sought after since the unexpected success of The Omega Code in 1999 and the unprecedented reach of The Passion of the Christ in 2004—would continue to turn out for the right film. Plenty of eyes will be trained on Fireproof, the Kendricks’ follow up to Facing the Giants, which has been screening for pastors and is counting on word of mouth among the Christian community to garner the same kind of attention generated by Giants.Earnest but predictable, Fireproof wants its good intentions to compensate for a lack of imagination. Those intentions, as stated by the Kendricks in a video interview, are to re-inject God’s purpose for marriage back into our culture, emphasizing that marriage is a covenant, not just a contract. Headlining the drama is former teenage heartthrob Kirk Cameron, of TV’s Growing Pains and, more recently, the Left Behind movies. Cameron plays Caleb Holt. a firefighter who follows the motto “never leave your partner” while on the job, but who, on the home front, is watching his marriage to Catherine (Erin Bethea) come apart. Catherine is upset that Caleb wants her to do certain household chores and errands during his days off. Instead of tending to the couple’s financial and emotional stability, Caleb obsesses over a boat and takes an unhealthy interest in Internet sites that his wife describes as “trash.”SEE ALSO: Giants Predecessor an Inspiring, Worthy Effort googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-1'); }); Michael (Ken Bevel), a co-worker who has a healthy marriage, advises Caleb to consult a counselor, but Michael’s prayers of thanksgiving to God after a close call suggest a Higher Power is the key to his inner strength. Meanwhile, Caleb, hoping to stave off divorce proceedings, yields to his father’s (Harris Malcolm) prodding and undertakes a 40-day course designed to rekindle the love he and Catherine once felt for each other. A sampling:  On Day 1, resolve to say nothing negative to your spouse; on Day 2, do an unexpected act of kindness; on Day 3, buy something that says you’re thinking of your spouse. But while Caleb pursues Catherine, she’s pursuing a relationship with another man, driving Caleb to his most vulnerable point yet. When Caleb’s father tells his son that the secret to his own marital bond is a shared Christian faith with Caleb’s mother, Caleb is forced to confront his own need for inner strength and peace amidst the turmoil in his life and marriage. Many of us have salvation stories that involve long resistance to God’s calling, with salvation coming only after we reach rock bottom. The Kendricks are seeking to tap into that widely shared experience in hopes that viewers will relate. The problem with such an approach is that the inner turmoil experienced prior to conversion is difficult to dramatize outwardly, and Cameron simply doesn’t have the chops to pull it off. He shifts between two modes as an actor—calm and screaming mad. Costar Bethea's performance is a bit more nuanced, but her work and the work of the other actors is hindered by a script that explains everything in the most direct fashion imaginable. For a film that shows characters making so many honorable decisions, Fireproof is simply no more exciting than an episode of Seventh Heaven. It’s hard to say whether the importance of the film’s message and the sincerity of its creators outweigh the lackluster filmmaking. That is for viewers to decide. SEE ALSO: "Fireproof" Shouldn't be Critic Proof Questions? Concerns? Contact the writer at [email protected]/* = 992 && gptClientWidth <= 1000000) googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-3'); }); Language/Profanity:  None. Drugs/Alcohol:  None. Sex/Nudity:  None, but Caleb’s addiction to Internet pornography is alluded to a few times, and a scene of him looking at his computer includes a advertisement for a risqué site. Marriage:  The institution of marriage is honored as a covenant, not a contract; a married couple described their date night as a “hot date”; one character has divorced and remarried. Violence/Disturbing Imagery:  Some firefighting danger; a near-miss involving an oncoming train; two cars drag race; a practical joke involves someone drinking straight from a bottle of “Wrath of God” Tabasco sauce; Caleb takes out his anger on various inanimate objects behind his house. Religion:  Christianity and acts of kindness are shown to be the only way to salvage troubled marriages; a woman pauses to say grace before a meal; a man gives thanks to God after nearly dying; a man converts to Christianity; parents testify to their child of God’s work in their lives. *Correction:  When first posted, this review of the film ‘Fireproof’ said that the budget for the film ‘Facing the Giants’ was $1,000,000. This was a mistake; the actual budget on ‘Facing the Giants’ was $100,000. The article was corrected to reflect the true amount. We apologize for this error. SEE ALSO: Making Marriage 'Fireproof' ]]>
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • 9 Squeaky-Clean Romantic Movies the Whole Family Can Watch
    Finding a movie the entire family can watch is difficult enough, but finding a romantic film that’s appropriate is next to impossible. The top-grossing lists of romantic drama and comedy films are littered with movies such as Knocked Up, Sex and the City and Fifty Shades of Grey.
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • 4 Things You Should Know About Indivisible
    (”Fireproof” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Heather Turner is a young military wife who simply wants her husband back to normal. For 15 months she took care of the children, cleaned the house, and led a ministry for military moms as her husband – a chaplain – served Army personnel in Iraq. Yet now that he’s back, he is anything but the loving, devoted husband and father she remembers.
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • 5 Things You Should Know about Overcomer
    (”Fireproof” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    It’s been four long years since Christian filmmakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick shocked Hollywood with a film – War Room – that climbed to No. 1 in the nation on its second weekend. Their newest film is finally here. Overcomer (PG) opens Aug. 23, telling the story of a high school basketball coach, John Harrison, who grows discouraged when his best players leave town after their parents become unemployed – thus dashing his hopes for a state championship. His mood worsens when he is forced to coach the cross-country team, which has only one runner, a girl named Hannah. Harrison questions his worth and life’s purpose until he crosses path with a blind Christian man who is comfortable in his own skin. Here are five things you should know about Overcomer: Photo courtesy: Kendrick Brothers
    ...
    (Review Source)

VJ Morton2
Right Wing Film Geek



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)
  • Here’s pat

    Here’s pat

    FIREPROOF (Alex Kendrick, USA, 2008) — 4

    I couldn’t even bring myself to see the Kendrick brothers’ previous film FACING THE GIANTS,¹ which I was reliably told had the football-coach main character get on his knees and accept Jesus Christ as his Savior in a field. After which, his football team becomes champions and he gets a new red truck, which is not only risible but pernicious — religion as a means to worldly success.² Methodism and Buddhism, e.g., are incomplete or mistaken; but the Prosperity Gospel Heresy is wicked.

    FIREPROOF avoids the Prosperity Gospel Heresy because it centers on a dying marriage, which saved by a mid-movie religious conversion. Unlike high-school football, marriage is a Godly institution, the success of which matters and has something to do with one’s religious/moral qualities. FIREPROOF has its heart in the right place, has entertaining parts, and is clearly better than (my received notion of) FACING THE GIANTS. It isn’t an awful movie, and it doesn’t deserve the F-grades or the sort of toxic hatred that you can see in the comment fields (or anywhere else secular liberals are gathered).³ I also acknowledge it had the value of being in the small Georgia city, Albany, where I lived for two years, which gives you a certain level of interest in spotting locations and details (e.g., I am 90 percent sure I know what restaurant that lead art is from). Still, it is more earnest, pat and “messagey” than Cynical Gen-X Catholic Moi likes. Maybe it would look better if it had been shown on the Hallmark or Lifetime channels as a movie-of-the-week. And its fundamental dramatic weakness suggests something about contemporary Christian works of art that lies in the very theology of Protestantism. (I swear … the one Amy Grant song I have just popped up on iTunes.)

    Kirk Cameron plays a fireman who agrees early on during a bitter fight with his wife (Erin Bethea) to a divorce — he’s diffident and uncaring, she says; she gives him no respect, he says. Cameron’s father (Harris Malcolm) advises against the divorce and persuades Cameron to try the “Love Dare,” a do-1-thing-and-read-1-Bible-verse-every-day-for-40-days program. The portrayal of a marriage’s disintegration and the initial difficulty putting it back together is the strongest part of FIREPROOF. Scott Tobias protests that there’s little at stake in this marriage — “has there ever been a blander conflict” — and that’s not wrong as an observation about the film, but that’s actually a strength. Most marriage breakups are of the water-wearing-down-the-rock variety of the couple just falling out of love than the dynamite-exploding-a-rock kinds of things (which is admittedly more dramatic). FIREPROOF not only understands that, but also understands that the 40-day thing is not going to work for a long time, partly because at least at the start, it will be being done from duty rather than love, and face a suspicious audience (“what’s he trying to pull”).

    But there’s no getting around the fact that the acting, writing and direction in FIREPROOF range from well-observed in a low-key way to a veritable Western Omelette of well-egged cheesy haminess. Some of the best moments of the film don’t have anything to do with the religious messages: the wife’s girlfriend circle (an edited conversation is so believable it transcends the on-the-noseness of the edits) and the dorm hijinks among the firemen (particularly, I will be vague, a mirror scene) are quite funny. The firefighting action scenes are tense and not overdone. There’s a running gag involving the next-door neighbor that is sit-commy, yes, but really worked because they were about the only moments of dry understatement in a universe of well-underlined points. Cameron gives easily the best performance in either of the two films I saw Monday night (waddya know … being a professional actor actually means you can act better than people who are not). But at the other end, some of the one-scene roles are simply unwatchable, like (first to come to mind) the elderly woman who talks to the wife over lunch at the hospital: you can see community-theater pride in the perfect recitation of the lines. You can’t really blame e.g., Harris Malcolm for his performance as the born-again father. He does what one can with the dialogue he is given (which never rises above the level of “illustrations for one of those John Ankerberg’s late-night TBN infomercials I loved when I lived with three evangelical college friends). I was gagging during a key shot as the camera moved a certain way toward a cross while Malcolm walked a certain way for no reason but to get into position and time his spoken lines to produce a well-composed “message shot” worthy of an Ankerberg TV commercial. It looks posed in the same way the still at the top of this review.

    As earnest message movies go, FIREPROOF is watchable and there is nothing cynical about its lack of cynicism, and no guile in its guileless turn to having the 40-day program only start working when Cameron undergoes a conversion (one he’s properly resistant to for the movie’s first two-thirds). But at the end of the day, I just have to wonder if evangelical soteriology doesn’t mold the mind in ways fundamentally inimical to drama. Imagine that you believe (and this Catholic, at least, can only imagine it) that your life is radically divided into “Before Christ” and “After Christ,” with your accepting Christ being a single, decisive act that takes place on a definable day that one can remember, mark and celebrate as the day you were saved, in the same way that one can remember, mark and celebrate the day you were married or the day you were born. If this is your understanding of the universe (I freely admit I’m grossly oversimplifying), then your scripts will be at least vulnerable to overdetermined, thesis-driven, on-a-dime plotting, and to a pat … patness. Your religion affects your imagination, defines its “believable” and its “normal” — how you see everything, in other words, not just your creedal beliefs about the explicit doctrines.

    Whatever may be said about this within its proper realm — the understanding of the supernatural act of salvation — drama about human beings simply doesn’t work that way because drama relies on men not being gods, being radically imperfect, and on our consciousness of both these other facts.

    Let me just take one thread as an example — one of the reasons the marriage is in trouble is that Cameron has a problem with internet porn. His wife is understandably jealous and properly angry. After this has been established, a “come hither” popup appears on the screen while Cameron is looking at pictures of boats (his relatively-licit material fetish). After a few seconds of walking around the room, Cameron pulls the computer and the monitor out into his yard, takes out the baseball bat, and gets medieval on its ass. Fair enough … and actually believable on its own terms.⁴ But … then what. Religious devotion is not incompatible with porn struggling, especially if it be a true addiction (and given the loose understandings of that noun currently regnant, it certainly is). But do we get any indication after the computer gets smashed of backsliding, of recovery from the wounds of sin being a process, of things being beyond immediate “cure” (or in Aquinas’s terms “concupiscence blinding the intellect”)? A real drama would have at least one scene later on of Cameron sneaking into a porn shop. But not here. “Before Christ, I was damned; After Christ, I am saved” is at least plausible; “Before Christ, I was addicted to porn; After Christ, I was not” is not. It’s not so much “false” as … well, I keep coming back to this word … “pat.”
    ————————————
    ¹ Alex directs; Stephen and Alex co-write. Both are ministers at Albany’s Sherwood Baptist Church.
    ² If I am wrong about these basic plot points on FACING THE GIANTS, I will accept correction.
    ³ It should go without saying that Scott’s review is wrongheaded but he is in no way responsible for the vileness and hatred in the combox.
    When I was a college journalist, I did a profile of a heavy-metal ministry being run couple of students at the Baptist Student Center, and one of them described to me smashing his secular- (and sometimes Satanic-)record collection, which was worth close to $2,000 in 1988 money, upon his conversion.

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    October 16, 2008 - Posted by | Alex Kendrick, Conservative films, Protestantism, Religion in movies, Scott Tobias

    12 Comments »

    1. “Before Christ, I was addicted to porn; After Christ, I was not” is not [plausible].

      I’m not sure the scene, at least as you describe it, is saying this. As an evangelical, I often “testimonies” of people making claims like this one — i.e. have previously engaged in behavior that is typically considered addictive or at least compulsive and then having no desire to engage in such behavior again (besides that they were unlikely to be true, these stories had the negative effect of making me frequently question my salvation since I didn’t have this kind of mastery over sinful desires).

      But the response of Cameron’s character seems to suggest that he knows porn is still a temptation and that he would rather go without his computer than succumb to it again (as Christopher West says, “Is it better to gain the whole Internet and lose one’s soul?).

      I’m not suggesting that it couldn’t have been better done or that the story wouldn’t have been better if he had actually had a post-conversion lapse. Just that the scene doesn’t seem to imply that Cameron is supposed to have been instantly cured of his addiction at the moment of conversion.

      Having not seen the movie or at least the scene in question, I may be missing

      Comment by Mark Adams | October 16, 2008 | Reply

    2. Okay, the question must be asked: Which Amy Grant song?

      Comment by Peter T Chattaway | October 16, 2008 | Reply

    3. Having not seen the movie or at least the scene in question, I may be missing

      … the end of that thought?

      OK … cheap shot over.

      So … ahem … I was unclear myself, markbud. I don’t have any problem at all with the computer-smashing scene in isolation and I footnoted a similar experience that I know of.

      My problem was entirely what you suspected about post-conversion lapsing, and I added a couple of phrases in italics to make my meaning clearer. I think that lack of any later lapse or even a hint thereat DOES at-least-imply that conversion brought about an instant or certainly permanent cure. Conversion simply is not a dime upon which human habits turn. St. Paul practically tells us otherwise, saying God refused to remove the thorn from his flesh.

      Comment by vjmorton | October 16, 2008 | Reply

    4. Peter:

      “Find A Way.”

      Comment by vjmorton | October 16, 2008 | Reply

    5. I actually like Amy Grant.

      Comment by Adam Villani | October 17, 2008 | Reply

    6. I’ve not seen Fireproof yet, but have been planning to in a “I’ll watch it sometime in the next year, but it’s not a see-or-die need, really” sort of way. So, I will have more collected thoughts concerning Fireproof after I’ve seen it. Thank you for the great review! I agree with you on a lot of points.

      However, I would encourage you to at least give Facing the Giants a chance. It’s not the best film ever made, and there are moments that are pat and resolved too quickly, but there is not a “conversion in a field” scene. The movie starts with a Christian couple, who are struggling with the fact that everything in their life is going wrong. Even if everything working out isn’t as realistic as normal life usually is, it’s a least a little better than a conversion; it’s more of a “giving up” scene. Anyway. 🙂 My two cents.

      Comment by Audrey | October 18, 2008 | Reply

    7. “A real drama would have at least one scene later on of Cameron sneaking into a porn shop.”

      And also, a scene wherein the guy’s kid says to his mom, “Hey, ma. What happened to the computer? I need to use it for my homework.” His mom replies, “Honey, it was offending Daddy, so he plucked it out.” The boy shakes his head and says, “Why didn’t he just install Firefox?”

      Comment by Russ | October 20, 2008 | Reply

    8. you seem to have a real issue with “secular liberals.”

      In 50 words or less, can you explain exactly what you find so offensive about them?

      I am truly curious.

      Comment by don | January 22, 2009 | Reply

    9. If you’re using psychobabble lingo like “you seem to have a real issue” and consider “Really?” an argument, I frankly doubt how “truly curious” you are.

      (I’ll prescind the comment at my use of “all-heterosexual gay panic” cuz I dont know whether you’ve seen HAPPY GO-LUCKY. I was referring to a character’s reaction to a developing crush on a woman he sees as representing everything wrong with the world. If you’d seen the actor and scenes in question, I think what I meant would have been perfectly clear. If not, I think my capsule was clear if allusive, but I’m willing to clarify some things.)

      Comment by vjmorton | January 22, 2009 | Reply

    10. But if you want a quick answer, here are exactly 50 words on how secular liberals are effing up the world and the U.S.:

      Abortion; cloning; self-righteousness; 60s-worship; sexual immorality in all forms; multiculturalism; me-ism; perspectivism and relativism; consent uber alles; demystifying and disenchanting everything; international wimpery; functional pacifism; cosmopolitanism; bohemianism; Christophobia; xenophilia; materialism in all forms; cultural snobbery internally and cultural relativism externally; born-yesterdayism; hatred of church and family; eternal damnation for many.

      Obviously, each of these terms between semicolons is worthy of extended discussion (I updated this comment a bit also). And I’m describing an ideal-type. Probably no particular secular-liberal fits all the descriptors perfectly, or even all of them at all; some of them are philosophical matters that your ordinary Obama voter (or any other voter frankly) doesn’t even think about. But that’s the whole point of an ideology — it defines and makes sense of the world before you even self-consciously “think” about it. Or in one phrase: secular-liberals get wrong everything important about the world.

      Comment by vjmorton | January 22, 2009 | Reply

    11. I just love the fact that there’s a guy who can’t seem to figure out why someone who named their blog “Rightwing Film Geek” would have a few ideological issues with your average secular liberal.

      Comment by Steve C. | January 25, 2009 | Reply

    12. I agree that teaching prosperity-through-salvation is a heresy, but that is not at all what Facing the Giants is suggesting. If you will watch the movie you will see that the coach already has a strong faith in Christ, but is struggling with several areas of his life (which, if anything, illustrates that Christians do face trials.) The whole message of the movie is that we should praise and trust in God even through the trials of life when things seem to be falling in around us (Phil. 4:11-13) The coach tries to teach his players that football in itself doesn’t matter to God except in the fact that He has allowed them to play and can use them in their position as athletes and role models (and how they react to both victory and defeat) to be a Christian example.
      As far as the way things work out in the movie – the red truck was given to him by the father of one of the players, whose relationship with his son was reconciled because of the coach’s influence in the boy’s life. It’s an example of how Christians should live out 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 (and I have experienced it first hand in my life on both ends – giving and receiving abundantly beyond anything I could expect.) As in the story, I was also blessed with two sons when, after years of not getting pregnant, I finally gave it over to the Lord and accepted that His will may not be for me to have children. At the end the team does win the state championship despite the odds being stacked against them, and it is a “feel-good” movie. But the overall message of the movie is to walk through every circumstance of life in faith and thanksgiving to God (Col. 2:6-7), which the coach determines to do BEFORE receiving all of God’s blessings in his life.
      At the end many things do work out for him, but it’s not like he’s all of a sudden rich or living in some huge house (he gets a $6000 raise from $24,000 mid way through after the team starts winning and the parents get behind his coaching abilities.) It sends a message about how God will be glorified when He provides for needs in our life if we have been living to glorify Him all along (1 Peter 4:10-11).

      Comment by Ashley | May 11, 2009 | Reply


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  • I won’t, I won’t, I won’t
    (”Fireproof” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    I won’t, I won’t, I won’t

    COURAGEOUS (Alex Kendrick, USA, 2011, 3)

    When it comes to films like this … I won’t! I won’t! I won’t! #JokeOnlyPeopleWhoveSeenTheMovieWillGet. I would like to see the Kendrick brothers adapt someone else’s script, maybe a Christian literary-canon author like Flannery O’Connor or Walker Percy or Graham Greene. It’s finally plain that they have no script judgement whatsoever, something COURAGEOUS lays bare naked because their technical and directorial chops HAVE gotten better. Their comedic work is amusing and I’ve seen far worse-made films at major festivals. Brother Alex Kendrick (lead actor here) now also is a legitimate A-grade thespian. The first half of COURAGEOUS needs no affirmative-action scale, in fact. But the back half is even weaker than FIREPROOF in terms of sudden story arcs and skimped-on resolutions. One whole subplot of a man with daughter he’s never met is nothing but a voiceover and a couple of scored montages. And the homiletics really get heavier and heavier (Substitutionary Atonement dialog FTL!!!) until a final scene of Kendrick himself (supposedly in character, but hardly) delivering a fiery Author’s Message sermon from his church’s real-life pulpit. I wanted to flee.

    As was elaborated in a subsequent back-and-forth with Steve Greydanus (upon whom I threatened to perform grievous bodily harm per my extensive (and illicit) boxing/MMA training AND questioned his commitment to Sparkle Motion), I was really more than anything else disappointed by the raised expectations from both Steve’s earlier review and the film’s first half. The Kendricks are now legitimately good film-makers. They can direct actors to give natural, believable performances (other than the pastor to whom Alex turns shortly after the midway point). They have a dry if sit-commy sense of humor (“I love you”). They can stage chases and fights and gunbattles at least as well (actually far better in classical or “old school” terms) as some Hollywoof schlockbusters. Here, they also don’t shy away from darker subject matter. So why can’t they SEE how awful the third act is? You either don’t raise the “anonymous kid” story at all, or you do it some justice. Do they actually believe that jailhouse conversation? Do they have to slather pedestrian music with EXACTLY ON THE NOSE lyrics on montages of resolution? Do they not giggle at the closing scene? They don’t have the “novices making church films” defense any more.

    Stanley Kaufman once wrote of Ingmar Bergman, “we must resign ourselves to his virtues because he is plainly too fond of his vices to overcome them, or even see them as such.”

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    October 19, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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The Federalist Staff1
The Federalist



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • 'War Room' Is Just As Cheesy As All Kendrick Brothers Films
    (”Fireproof” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Christians across America are gathering in movie theatres to see “War Room,” the latest film written and directed by Alex and Stephen Kendrick. The two brothers’ movie tells the tale of how an old woman’s teaching about prayer changes the lives and marriage of Tony and Elizabeth Jordan. While this story may sound like your average feel-good Christian film, there’s more going on. What we’re seeing is the culmination of ten years of the brothers’ work. Alex and Stephen Kendrick (who are not related to “Pitch Perfect’s” Anna Kendrick) started their filmmaking career in 2002, when Alex, a pastor at Sherwood Church in Georgia, saw a Barna Group study on how film and entertainment influenced culture more than politics or journalism. This inspired Alex to work with Stephen to write the script for “Flywheel,” their first film. “Flywheel” was made for less than $20,000 and relied heavily on volunteers from Sherwood. The film was released directly to DVD and received very little in sales. But it was the start of a long media career for the brothers. Since then, they’ve written, directed, and released three additional films to theatres and attracted mass-media attention. Many of these films were box-office successes, showing there is an audience for faith-based films. Alex and Stephen even received awards from Movieguide and from the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival commending their dedication to filmmaking and the faith. When “Facing the Giants” hit theatres in 2006, media critics saw it as the start of something big, of a strong Christian media market that would “change the culture.” But were these predictions true? The answer is a bit complex. Yes, the Kendrick brothers did change culture; they just didn’t change the major one. All they actually did was introduce a new generation of Christian filmmakers to a low standard of storytelling. The Kendrick Brothers Wrote the Book on Christian Film While Christian films are hardly a new phenomenon, Sherwood showed how a small, independent, religious company can make a significant box-office hit. After “Facing the Giants made more than $10 million in the box office, other filmmakers decided they wanted to get in on the action. Groups like Pureflix Entertainment and Erwin Brothers began following the Kendrick brothers’ footsteps, creating family friendly media for a Christian audience that became significant in its own way. It was clear that Alex and Stephen Kendrick were leading the way towards a new kind of filmmaking However, in clearing the way, the Kendricks ended up standardizing a series of literary devices, or “tropes,” in the Christian film industry. These include: The Kendricks ended up standardizing a series of tropes in the Christian film industry. Preaching to the protagonist and audience: Kendrick films seem to be written more as a cinematic sermon than a fully fleshed-out story. Certain Christian characters take a significant amount of time to present the main character and audience with an argument for either the Gospel or a moral lesson about marriage, parenthood, sexuality, etc. In “War Room,” all the protagonists’ problems are fixed after A) accepting Christ and B) setting up a prayer closet. While this is clearly the end goal of the film, it ends up causing the non-teaching parts of the film to not resonate with an audience that may not agree. Simplistic character archetypes: These films tend to write protagonists in a very one-note fashion. Either the protagonist is a Christian with few character flaws whom God helps get through his struggle, or he’s a non-Christian whose conversion helps him conquer everything without the potential for future struggle. In the same way, non-Christian characters are either openly antagonistic to the expression of faith, there to be converted by the believers, comedy or realism relief, or all of the above. Telling, not showing: Instead of taking time to show a character’s backstory or problems through visual representation, the films tend to rely on characters explaining their problems to the audience. For example, let’s look at the drug subplot in “War Room.” According to the movie, Tony Jordan, the husband, was fired from his job because he “padded his numbers” and stole samples from his employer. However, the film doesn’t attempt to show him doing this (outside of a single gesture in one scene that you’d miss if you blinked). Instead, it relies on external characters telling Tony (and the audience) what he’s done. This is an unhelpful method of storytelling; especially for one that’s supposed to be visually driven. The films tend to rely on characters explaining their problems to the audience. Keeping it excessively clean: While the Kendrick brothers clearly want to deal with issues like fatherhood and marriage, they seem to go out of their way to avoid certain “thematic elements” in order to maintain a family-friendly standard. The most notable example of this in the Kendrick brothers’ work is “Fireproof,” where the main couple (played by Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea) spend a lot of time talking about the husband’s problem with pornography. However, the film never takes time to A) actually show the husband using it, and B) never uses the word pornography! Now, these aren’t new tropes in Christian film and literature, and some of them aren’t exclusive to Christian media. Films like “The Happening” and “San Andreas” also have their problems. However, the Kendricks’ work unintentionally cemented a framework for Christian media where viewers have learned to frown on departing from “making this to present a truth.” Movies Will Save You But why is this bad? After all, the Kendricks themselves have said in past interviews that their main goal in making these films is to save souls. But is that really happening? And is that the sole goal of the film? The Kendrick brothers’ box-office ‘success’ is driven by a select number of religiously motivated consumers who are interested in art that advocates for their view. While Alex and Stephen have mentioned multiple times in past interviews that their films have inspired others to make first-time confessions of faith, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what the market is using them for. A recent Lifeway study revealed that the vast majority of Christian media consumers are self-proclaimed Christians. If you add the recent data points from Christian media advocacy group Faith Driven Consumer to the equation, it becomes clear that the Kendrick brothers’ box-office “success” is driven by a select number of religiously motivated consumers who are more interested in art that advocates for their view than in art that is aesthetically excellent. Some would defend this economic framework by arguing that if a film saves a single soul, it is completely worth the time. However, this seems far too pragmatic. First off, the primary function of a film isn’t to act as a sermon or to save a soul; it’s to tell a story in a visually interesting and enjoyable way that will help the viewer empathize and realize things about the world around them. This is best done through an intelligent professional mixture of technical forms, cultural ideals, economic interests, and content. Don’t Challenge Me, Just Confirm My Beliefs However, recent shifts in how American Christians view art has caused them to overemphasize the moral or religious content in a piece of art at the cost of aesthetic and cultural excellence. This is why argument- or sermon-focused films like “God’s Not Dead” made more than $60 million in the box office while more artistic films like “Noah” or “Calvary” were either derided for their more “creative” approach to a biblical story or received little attention from the faith-based consumer market. The Kendrick brothers have changed the face of Christian media in more ways than one. They inspired a new generation of Christian creators to express their faith in the cinematic medium. However, their work also cemented the notion that Christian media should be used to save and teach. While this might seem like an effective way to spread Christian ideas, it only empowers a select group of Christians who mostly seem interested in promoting content they already agree with. ]]>
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    (Review Source)

Plugged In2
Focus on the Family



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Eduardo Verástegui Talks About Faith, Little Boy and the Power of Media
    (”Fireproof” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    The New York Times ran “nearly 900 film reviews in 2013,” according to the Times itself. That’s not quite three films per day, but it’s getting close. With that huge number of motion pictures being made each year (and certainly the Times didn’t review every one), it might surprise you to know that Focus on the Family has gone out on a limb only a handful of times to give an endorsement. That’s not to say there haven’t been hundreds of family-friendly films we could have recommended. It’s just that, as a rule, we don’t. I could count on just my fingers how many times Focus has, via the radio broadcast, actually encouraged listeners to buy a movie ticket. The Passion of the Christ. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Fireproof. To name a few of the few. But back in 2006 when the pro-life film Bella was releasing, Focus on the Family made one of those rare exceptions and rallied behind it (you can read our review here). Eduardo Verástegui, the movie’s co-producer and star told Plugged In back then that he knew his inspiring little flick was going to have its challenges at the box office. But Verástegui viewed the success of Bella differently than most people in the industry. “What I’d love to see happen with this film is to someday have this 12-year-old knock on my door and say that her mother was going to have an abortion. But she saw this film,” he said. “That would be my Oscar.” Now another Verástegui-produced film, Little Boy, is rolling out to theaters, officially opening nationwide tomorrow. I caught up with this actor/singer/producer to get the scoop, plus details on his personal life. First and foremost I wanted to know how he came to Christ. Verástegui explained how his father wanted him to become a lawyer, but he had a different dream in mind. So he set off from his small town of Xicotencati, Mexico, at age 18 to move to Mexico City in hopes of becoming a singer and actor. Things clicked and he started singing in a popular boy band called Kairo. About three-and-a-half years later he started acting in Mexican telenovelas. Then at age 28, with a film opportunity in the works, Verástegui moved to L.A. to immerse himself in the study of English. In the process of learning this new language, Verástegui’s teacher began to ask him questions that revolutionized his life. He thought it was all part of normal language lessons. She, on the other hand, wanted to plant spiritual seeds, asking such questions as, What is the purpose of life? Who is God in your life? Who do you die for? “Who do you live for?” “I was very empty,” explained Verástegui. “Something was missing in my life and I didn’t know what it was,” he told me. “God was part of my life, but not the center of my life. Because of her somehow, she opened my eyes.” Having seen Little Boy twice, my impression of the movie was that it was a good, family-friendly film, but not an explicitly Christian film like Courageous would be. I asked him about that, particularly since Little Boy’s been marketed heavily to the Christian community. “Well, you’re right,” Verástegui responded. “First of all this movie is a mainstream family-friendly movie for everyone. That’s pretty much our goal with our company. …Our hope as filmmakers is that when people leave the theater they will leave inspired to love more and judge less. …Hopefully people will leave full of not just popcorn and soda, but full of hope, love and faith.” I then inquired how Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (both of whom are listed as executive producers) got involved with Little Boy. Verástegui explained: “One day we were screening the movie and Mark Burnett came. He was invited by a friend. He saw the movie and he was very touched; he loved the movie. He said, ‘Eduardo, how can I help you? … I have no agenda other than I just saw the movie and I want to make sure that everybody sees this movie because this movie is designed to make this world a better place.’” Verástegui would naturally like for Little Boy to be a financial success. But he does his best to not think about such matters. Again, like Bella, his priorities are elsewhere. “[When] you start thinking [about the money], you don’t sleep especially when you’re close to the release. So, I let my other business partners deal with that while I’m promoting the movie.” In closing, I want to share a few thoughts that Verástegui had about the influence of today’s media. He often came across in our interview as someone who could be on the Plugged In team. Although media questions are common for me to ask, his thoughts about the power of entertainment came about as he shared his testimony, not from any inquiry on my part.  Here are three powerful nuggets from our chat: “…I was using my talents in a selfish way. I forgot that whatever project I was involved with, whether I liked it or not, would affect how people think, how they live, how they behave, especially in people who have this tendency to imitate what they see and feel on television.” “I believe that art has the power to heal and to bring people together.” “…at the same time I realized how much media influences how people think. That’s when I made a promise to my parents and I made a promise to God that I would never use my talents again to do anything that would offend my faith, my family or my Mexican culture.” ]]>
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    (Review Source)

PJ Media Staff2
PJ Media



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • In Hollywood, 'Hope and Change' Trumps Critical Thought
    (”Fireproof” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    PJ Media America may possess the most powerful military in the world. But the nation's ability to harness its soft power, specifically its entertainment exports, is what may cement how the rest of the world views -- and respects -- us.So argues a new book with a great title: American Idol After Iraq: Competing for Hearts and Minds in the Global Media Age, by film executive Mike Medavoy and foreign affairs correspondent Nathan Gardels. Reality shows and blockbuster movies aren't just puffery, they argue. They are weapons in the war to influence public opinion. And right now, Medavoy and Gardels feels pop culture is firing mostly blanks.It's all fascinating grist for a book, and the authors expand the subject to include a number of crucial sub-topics. But Idol doesn't have the courage to follow through on its main premise. To do so would veer into the kind of discourse you might hear from a "family values" Republican.In essence, if American entertainment cleaned up its act, the world might view us in a more positive light. But the book doesn't argue so much about R-rated content as it does that American films aren't sensitive enough to the rest of the globe.Early on, the book does make some salient points: "Sometimes films and television shows mislead outsiders about American life, for example by the near total absence of religious expression in mainstream entertainment."But Idol goes on to list American weaknesses and missteps with alacrity -- and often accuracy -- but can't do the same for other countries. It's the liberal two-step. We're wrong, wrong, wrong on most counts, but every other country gets a moral pass. We lack insight and experience regarding other countries to our everlasting shame -- but it's never to other countries' shame that they misinterpret the U.S.The authors clearly had "hope and change" on the brain as they huddled together to create Idol. Every few pages, they reference how President Barack Obama will right some of the wrongs committed by President George W. Bush -- asides given no real weight since Obama hasn't done anything yet in his young presidency. Let's wait for him to change the world before writing about it as if it's a fait accompli.The authors then remind us -- as if it were news to celebrate -- that a Hamas spokesman said he preferred Obama as president. class="pages"> https://pjmedia.com/blog/new-book-substitutes-hope-and-change-for-critical-thought/ previous Page 1 of 2 next   ]]>
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    (Review Source)

Andrew Klavan1
PJ Media



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Hooray For Big Hollywood
    (”Fireproof” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    When it comes to deploring the leftist hegemony in Hollywood, I can deplore with the best of them. It stinks that America-bashing and God-bashing and |
    ...
    (Review Source)

John Hanlon1
John Hanlon Reviews



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • 5 Great Faith-Based Movies from the last 15 years
    (”Fireproof” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    ...
    (Review Source)

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