Fireproof is a 2008 American Christian drama film released by Samuel Goldwyn Films and Affirm Films, directed by Alex Kendrick, who co-wrote and co-produced it with Stephen Kendrick. The film stars Kirk Cameron, Erin Bethea and Ken Bevel.
Reviews for the film were "generally unfavorable" from film critics. The film was successful at the box office, becoming a surprise hit, debuting at No.Â 4 and becoming the highest-grossing independent film of 2008, grossing over $33,000,000. It received awards from evangelical Christian organizations, including the Best Feature Film award at the 2009 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.
In 1983, young Catherine always dreamed of marrying a man like her father. She asks, in a child's innocence, if she could marry her father. Her mother tells her no, that he is already her husband and their love will never be done; Catherine could have her happily ever after when she found someone who truly cares for her.
Twenty-five years later, Catherine is a hospital administrator, married to fire captain Caleb Holt. Caleb recruits young men under the dictum of never leaving one's partner, especially in a fire. But at home, it is revealed that he and Catherine argue over almost everything. Catherine accuses Caleb of being selfish with his time and money and is especially angered that Caleb is saving up his money to buy a large and expensive boat. Caleb retorts that Catherine prioritizes preferences over needs and is ungrateful for all he does to help others. They both feel that the other is uncaring and unappreciative of the other. Their constant arguing finally comes to a head and Catherine demands a divorce, to which an enraged Caleb agrees.
The two complain to their respective friends, showing the depth of their miscommunication. Caleb's father John convinces his son to hold off on divorce proceedings in order to try the Love Dare, a 40-day challenge for improving marriages by changing the way a spouse is treated. Caleb reluctantly agrees, though he decides not to tell Catherine. At the hospital where she works, Catherine has been openly flirting with a doctor named Gavin Keller, to whom she is attracted because he treats her kindly and with respect. Caleb's friend Michael also persuades Caleb to hold off on divorce. He glues the station salt and pepper shakers together as an example, pointing out that if Caleb tries to pull them apart, he will break one or both of them. Michael also points out that Caleb will save complete strangers, but is not even willing to save his own marriage.
The Love Dare begins and it introduces new concepts each day. Caleb completes each task, albeit halfheartedly, seeing it more as a checklist than an actual investment. Each meager effort goes unappreciated. The nurses at Catherine's hospital warn her not to trust him, thinking that he is merely trying to "butter her up" for a better divorce settlement. Additionally, she dismisses his attempts because he chooses internet pornography over intimacy with her, making her feel humiliated and inadequate. With encouragement from his father and Michael, Caleb forges ahead anyway, though Catherine grows closer to the doctor while Caleb struggles through each day. After going all out on Day 19 with a candlelit dinner, Catherine tells Caleb directly to his face that she doesn't love him anymore, prompting him to almost quit. John tells his son that he needs to accept Christ into his life, and emphasizes giving love and forgiveness to a partner, whether it is deserved or not. Sometime later, during a rescue, Caleb sustains first-degree burns and while he is being treated at the hospital where his wife works, Dr. Keller inadvertently discovers that Catherine is married, but continues his affections anyway.
Invigorated by his faith, Caleb asks God for help in defeating his demons and overcoming his addictions. He destroys the computer containing the pornography and places extravagant flowers in its place, along with a note saying that he loves his wife more. Despite the genuine act, Catherine replies with an envelope containing a petition for divorce, leaving Caleb heartbroken.
Many years earlier, Catherine's mother survived a stroke, but a side effect left her partially paralyzed and unable to speak, necessitating medical treatment and equipment. Catherine goes to see the electric wheelchair and bed (which costs $24,300) needed for her mother, and discovers that it has already been paid for in full. She assumes Dr. Keller footed the bill, driving them closer together. Caleb eventually discovers this burgeoning affair and confronts the doctor about. Caleb firmly states that he will not step aside and will continue to fight for her heart too, while thanking the doctor for treating his injuries. After Caleb leaves, the doctor pulls out a wedding ring, revealing he is actually married himself, and ends his affections towards Catherine.
Caleb and Catherine continue about their lives, and Caleb follows through on the Love Dare, until one day Catherine discovers the book. While taking care of a sick Catherine, Caleb reveals that he has already passed the 40 days, but does not care, as he now wants to show unconditional love for Catherine. He gives a heartfelt apology for the way he has treated her over the past few years and promises to be a better husband to her in order to live up to the same principle that he teaches his men: never leave your partner. While she takes time to think about the divorce, Catherine discovers that Caleb used his entire life savings to buy her mother's bed and wheelchair while Dr. Keller only contributed $300. Moved to tears by the profound selflessness of his act, Catherine and Caleb reconcile, resulting in a passionate kiss. Caleb also discovers to his great surprise that his mother, whom he has treated poorly, once used the Love Dare on his father, and not vice versa as Caleb had originally thought. The film ends with Caleb and Catherine renewing their wedding vows as a covenant with God. The last shot is of the wedding cake, topped with the salt and pepper shakers Michael glued together.
- Kirk Cameron as Capt. Caleb Holt of the Albany Fire Department's Station One
- Erin Bethea as Catherine Holt, Caleb's wife, who works as a public relations director for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital
- Ken Bevel as Lt. Michael Simmons
- Jason McLeod as Eric Harmon, a rookie firefighter
- Perry Revell as Dr. Gavin Keller, a married doctor who admires Catherine
- Stephen Dervan as Wayne, a firefighter at Station One
- Harris Malcom as John Holt, Caleb's father
- Phyllis Malcom as Cheryl Holt, Caleb's mother
- Renata Williams as Latasha Brown, a nurse at Phoebe Putney
- Alex Kendrick as Pastor Strauss
- Chelsea Noble as Catherine Holt body double (uncredited), who appeared in the scene where Caleb and Catherine reconcile, as Cameron would not kiss any woman but his wife
Fireproof's supporting cast also included nearly 1,200 volunteers from Sherwood Baptist Church.
Production and marketing
Fireproof was filmed during Octoberâ"December 2007 in 16 locations, all of which were donated. Craig von Buseck of the Christian Broadcasting Network said that the film was, "beautifully shot in and around Albany, Georgia, home to Sherwood Baptist Church." The Albany Fire Department donated its fire station locations, trucks and even some of its crew for use during the filming. The producers were also given use of a train and a hospital wing. The film's cast and crew were made up of 1,200 volunteers, along with a professional film crew of eight who worked below rate. Instead of marketing with television spots and billboards, Fireproof's marketers invited Christian publications to the set and screened the film early for pastors and church groups. Meyer Gottlieb, president of Samuel Goldwyn Films said, "The marketing is more grass roots."
The film soundtrack for Fireproof was released on July 14, 2009. It features songs by Christian groups and artists, such as Casting Crowns and Third Day, as well as highlights of the film's score, composed by Mark Willard.
- "Fireproof" â" Main Title (2:11)
- "Brighter Days" â" Leeland (3:44)
- "This is Who I Am" â" Third Day (2:32)
- "On the Tracks" (6:08)
- "The Love Dare" (1:02)
- "Slow Fade" â" Casting Crowns (4:40)
- "Not Good Enough" (1:00)
- "What You Don't Have" (2:37)
- "House Fire" (6:01)
- "While I'm Waiting" â" John Waller (4:52)
- "Temptation" (2:52)
- "The Apology" (2:43)
- "Personal Sacrifice" (3:48)
- "You Belong to Me" â" Grey Holiday (1:50)
- "She Did It To Me" (1:50)
- "Love Is Not a Fight (Movie Version)" â" Warren Barfield (4:28)
- "Bonus Track: While I'm Waiting (Fireproof Remix)" â" John Waller (4:49)
In 2010, the soundtrack for the film was nominated for a Dove Award for Special Event Album of the Year at the 41st GMA Dove Awards.
Fireproof has received generally negative reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave it rating of 40%, based on 20 reviews. Metacritic gave it a metascore of 28, based on 6 reviews, signifying "Generally unfavorable reviews". Ed Gonzalez of LA Weekly said, "Fireproof stops becoming relatable to us all and only to the already, or easily, indoctrinated." Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter said, "While hardly sophisticated in its approach and certainly not polished in its technical elements, the film does get its heartfelt message across with undeniable sincerity. Its success at the box office, which will no doubt continue on home video, demonstrates that there's no shortage of filmgoers dissatisfied with cynical Hollywood product."
Josh Rosenblatt of The Austin Chronicle criticized the film's story, saying it "makes for fruitful soul-fishing but lousy drama." Joe Leydon of Variety gave the film a positive review, saying, "Cameron is genuinely compelling as Caleb, a work-obsessed firefighter on the verge of divorce from his neglected wife." Cheryl Dickow of the Catholic Exchange said, "I feel it is necessary to send a message to Catholics everywhere that this is a movie worth seeing."
Fireproof's advance sales accounted for 40% of all Fandango sales the week before the film opened. It was released on September 26, 2008 in 839 theaters and grossed $6,836,036 in its opening weekend, placing at No.Â 4. During its run, Fireproof had a domestic gross of $33,456,317, more than triple the lifetime earnings of its predecessor, Facing the Giants, and moving it into the top 6 grossing Christian films of all time. It was the highest grossing independent film of 2008.
Fireproof was released to DVD on January 27, 2009 and to Blu-ray on September 29, 2009. Included as special features are deleted scenes, bloopers, behind-the-scenes making-of featurettes, and a commentary by the Kendrick Brothers. On its first weekend of DVD release, it ranked third in retail sales and fifth in rentals with a rental index of 51.02. After the upcoming weeks, it made $28,507,308 in DVD sales.
2009 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival
- Best Feature Film
- Runner up for Best of Festival.
17th Annual Movieguide Faith & Values Awards Gala
- $100,000 Epiphany Prize
The Dove Foundation's Crystal Seal Awards
- Best Drama
- Sherwood Pictures
- Official website
- Fireproof at AllMovie
- Fireproof at the TCM Movie Database
- Fireproof at the Internet Movie Database
- Fireproof at Box Office Mojo
- Fireproof at Rotten Tomatoes
- Fireproof at Metacritic
- Fireproof on Facebook