Fireproof: Part 3
So, in the comments for Part 2, several of you opined that the Love Dare challenges were…well, basically crap. Maybe okay if you’re trying to bring back a little something to a marriage that is fundamentally good, but less than useless in a marriage as broken as Caleb and Catherine’s.
Catherine’s friends agree. In fact, they’ve got a theory:
Oh, and remember what I said about the black female characters back in Part 1? Well, here we go again, as two of Catherine’s friends, both black, address Catherine’s confusion:
Nurse #1: Hey, Cat, how you doin’, girl?
[Catherine explains what's been going on]
Nurse #2: I’ll tell you what he’s doing—he’s trying to butter you up for a divorce.
Catherine: And why would he do that?
Nurse #2: Before my cousin Luwanna got a divorce, her husband did the same thing. He started acting nice and sweet, and the next thing we know, he walks away with the house and most of their money. He hasn’t even talked to her since. Don’t you let him deceive you, girl.
Nurse #1: Mmmmmmm.
Catherine, sinful woman that she is, immediately agrees with her friends. Clearly, none of them are quite right with God, what with being concerned for Catherine’s feelings and welfare and future.
Later, at home, Caleb is sitting in front of the computer. Presumably, he is feeding his porn addiction, given how quickly he closes all the windows when he hears Catherine come in. (Naturally, the camera is positioned so we can’t see the monitor.)
Now, I’m no expert on guys watching porn online…but do they really do it fully clothed, in an uncomfortable-looking chair, in the living room?
I mean, there’s not even a box of tissues or anything there on the desk. (Yeah, I went there.)
(Also, Caleb looks more like he’s trying to do a moderately difficult Sudoku than like he’s looking at lovely ladies.)
Anyway, Catherine calls Caleb on his “nice-guy routine,” over the past two weeks or so, and Caleb explodes:
Caleb: YOU NEVER ASSUME I WOULD DO ANYTHING WORTHY OF RESPECT! ANYTHING HONORABLE!
Not sure how “honorable” it is to make one lousy cup of coffee, but Catherine goes to the internet porn instead. She points out, oh so correctly, that “defaulting” (heh, is that what the kids are calling it these days?) to internet porn is not exactly honorable. Then she stalks off. You go, girl.
Looks how this experience is changing Caleb for the better!
(Note: as I mentioned earlier, the word “porn” is never used. I guess so parents can bring their kids to this movie about a toxic, abusive marriage. Instead, it’s “what you were looking at.”)
Caleb, once again disappointed that he can’t just haul off and smack that mouthy broad, heads to the backyard to take out his anger on the innocent trashcan again. (This time, it’s with a baseball bat instead of his foot. The situation is escalating, and that poor trashcan is paying the price.)
Elderly neighbor is in his backyard, grilling like a boss, and witnesses the whole thing! Again!
HA! (C’mon, laugh, it’s supposed to be funny!)
Caleb then sits in his car, and calls his dad to whine and cry at him.
John correctly calls out Caleb on doing “just enough to get by.”
This is twice in five minutes that Caleb has been called on his bullshit. Nice.
Then this happens:
Caleb: I feel nothing.
John: I understand, son. But this is not based on feelings.
Yeah, geez! Who would want to base a marriage on stupid, sissy feelings, anyway???
(What were you, my loyal readers, saying about Fireproof spouses being treated like malfunctioning robots?)
John urges Caleb to keep taking things a day (and a challenge) at a time.
Caleb: Yes, sir.
Huh. Looks like some people in Caleb’s life get respect and consideration from him.
The solution to this problem is obvious: Caleb should marry his dad.
Meanwhile, Catherine goes to cry on her mom’s shoulder, which is complicated by the fact that Catherine’s mom can’t talk to her.
Catherine: When did I stop being good enough for him?
This is sad, because this is the hot issue for Catherine. Not the verbal and emotional abuse, not being treated as a live-in maid. It’s all about the internet porn. Look, I’m not saying it’s not a problem, but this problem is competing with the problem that her husband also screams in her face and bullies her into the corner of the room when he gets even slightly ticked off.
Musical montage! (Catherine keeps flirting with a guy who genuinely seems to enjoy her company. The harlot.)
When we cut back, we find Caleb is on Day 18. (I guess if you want to know what to do to save your marriage on Days 5 through 17, you can buy the damn book, you cheapskates!)
Oh, I take that back. Caleb is talking to Michael, and mentions that he “kinda skipped” Day 16, which is about praying for your spouse. And Day 17 is about listening.
I’m guessing Caleb “kinda skipped” that one, too. (Also, it takes 17 days to figure out you should listen to your spouse? Yeah, great marriage book.)
So, it’s Day 18, and Caleb is supposed to think about “studying” Catherine, getting to know her again, like he did when he was courting her. (And I am so sure that Caleb studied Catherine when they were dating. Because he’s such a sensitive listener and has so much respect for women.)
Hilariously, at the end of Day 18, Caleb is supposed to make a candlelight dinner for Catherine, and “then ask her a whole list of questions.”
Um, yeah, because nothing is sexier and more romantic that being interviewed.
Seriously, how would this even work in this crap marriage? If he asks her stupid questions (“So, seen any good movies lately…without me?”) then she’ll just be bored and annoyed. If he tries to ask her deep questions about her innermost hopes and fears, she’ll assume (and who could blame her?) he’s manipulating her. So there’s really no way that anybody is coming out of this a winner.
More “comic relief.” Caleb confesses to the rookie that he (Caleb) drank tomato juice when Rookie chugged hot sauce. Rookie is pissed. Rookie is also easily the most likeable character in this movie. “There were some serious repercussions!”
Candlelight dinner time! Caleb is waiting for Catherine as she comes in the door, and the table looks pretty nice, really. Caleb pulls out a chair for her, with a puffed-out chest like a four-year-old who managed to tie his own shoes.
Catherine just walks on by.
She takes a minute in her room, then comes back to ask Caleb exactly what in the fucking hell he thinks he’s doing. (But she asks, yanno, in a clean way. Not in my filthy heathen way.)
Caleb: *all smug* Maybe I’d like to have dinner with my wife.
Catherine: Let me be real clear with you about something. I do not love you.
Caleb heads outside, but instead of beating up the trashcan, he does the other thing he does when he’s angry.
Daa—aaaaaddd, Catherine’s being mean to me. Tell her to stoooopppp!
John sees the caller ID, giving him the opportunity to say to himself…
John: Oh, son, this is when it gets hard.
Aww, did Catherine hurt Caleb’s pwecious fee-fees? Yeah? GOOD.
Oh, and lest you get the wrong idea, Caleb’s feelings aren’t hurt. Or, if they are, it is very much secondary to his anger. He is really, really angry at Catherine for daring to spurn him.
Caleb: SHE HAS GIVEN ME NOTHING.
Because it’s still all about him. She’s just the doll who won’t respond the way she is supposed to.
The doll, meanwhile, is crying in her room. Aww, so she really does love Caleb! Silly woman that she is, she just said something she didn’t mean to hurt him!
The next day, John comes over (without Cheryl this time, because John is no fool and now knows that Caleb can’t stand to be around the female of the species), and the two Manly Men take another Manly Walk.
Caleb: Catherine’s not buying any of it.
Gee, asshat, maybe that’s because you’re confusing her because she has no idea why you’re doing any of this crap!
John almost immediately brings up Jesus. As you would when your abusive son’s marriage is falling apart.
Caleb: I do not need a crutch to get through life.
John: Oh, son, Jesus is much more than a crutch.
Okay, um, I think I’ll just file that under “I don’t think he actually realized what he just said.” Because John just straight-up admitted Jesus is a crutch, though he is also more than that. Snerk.
John admits that he thinks Caleb will end up in Hell for “violating [Jesus's] standards.” Given that he thinks that, I’m surprised John is so blasé about the whole issue, given his son’s dangerous profession. I mean, that Hypothetical Bus Fire could happen at any time!
Caleb argues that “I help people; I am a good person,” the very arguments he fights against as Ray Comfort’s Robin.
Caleb is silenced by the shocking revelation that Jesus’s standards are, like, really high and stuff, because Caleb is totally starting to see his sin. (As in all Christian movies, the non-Christian doesn’t question why he should care about the standards of one sanctimonious creep who lived two thousand years ago, or why he is supposed to feel guilty about not conforming to the creep’s standards.)
John changes tactics and asks Caleb why he is so frustrated with Catherine. Instead of telling the truth (she is a woman and she would like me to contribute to the house and acknowledge her existence once in awhile), he starts whining again:
Caleb: She makes everything difficult for me. She’s ungrateful. She’s constantly griping about something. … I’m not even welcome in my own home. … How am I supposed to show love to somebody over and over and over who constantly rejects me?
Ah-HA, but see, father and son have once again wandered into the old Bible camp, and as Caleb finishes his tirade about ungrateful females, John is standing right next to the cross!
(‘Cause, see, ungrateful humans make everything difficult for Jesus. They’re always griping about shit. And they reject him over and over!)
So, isn’t Jesus supposed to be better than humans? Shouldn’t he have more patience and stuff? John seems to think we should feel sorry for Jesus because of all the crap we ungrateful humans give him, but can’t he just take infinite amounts of crap?
But John’s point is that Caleb, being a non-Christian, isn’t capable of love:
John: You can’t love her because you can’t give her what you don’t have. I couldn’t truly love your mother till I understood what love really was.
Such a weirdly cultish sentiment: We aren’t like those other filthy sinners. We have real love. Not like that fakey love that Jews and Hindus and Wiccans and atheists pretend to have. We have access to, and true understanding of, the special love.
And the special hell, too!
John pulls the boilerplate John 3:16 and the “atheists are just so easily offended” cards next:
John: The cross was offensive to me until I came to it.
Exactly how was it offensive to you, John? I want to know. Was it like a vampire thing?
‘Cause that’s not really how atheists react. Just so’s you know.
Kirk Cameron is scrunching up his face like he’s trying to make tears come, and John ends with a final guilt trip of “I love you too much not to tell you the truth.”
So, just like that, Caleb repents (of being a non-Christian, of abusing his wife) and John walks him through the Sinner’s Prayer.
They hug and pray and stuff, which seems like quite a switcheroo from a guy who, not five minutes ago, said he didn’t need the Jesus Crutch.
Fade to black.
You might think, after this miraculous conversion, that a man might feel the need to come clean to his wife. To share his newfound faith and maybe even reveal the reason for his changed behavior (and now, his changed mind).
Oh, silly reader. Like Caleb would ever open up to a mere woman. That would be so…womany.
Nope, he opens up to a Manly Man, as God intended.
Caleb: Um…it’s about your faith.
Michael: My faith?
Michael: What about it?
Caleb: Well, I’m in.
They hug (in the manliest of ways, of course).
Michael: You’re my brother from another mother and now we got the same father!
Caleb just looks pleased as punch about this.
Once again, instead of discussing the Love Dare with his actual wife, Caleb discusses it with his male companions. They’re way less scary than the wimmins.
And he learns Michael’s shameful secret: before he was married to his “incredible” current wife, Tina, he was married a first time!
Caleb is floored by this fact. I mean, yesterday, he wouldn’t have given two shakes if another person was married one time or two times or six times, but now he’s been infected by the RTC Virus, so he literally turns and checks to see if any other firemen are around as Michael reveals this, divorce being the secret and shameful thing that it is.
Michael: [We were married] for one horrible year. I got married for the wrong reasons, then I turned around and got a divorce for the wrong reasons. Man, I thought I was just following my heart. … It was before I gave my life to the Lord, and, man, I was just only concerned about my rights and my needs.
Ha! Typical atheist, amirite?
Michael: Man, I ruined her life.
Michael: But when I gave my life to God, I tried to find her, but she’d already remarried.
Michael: So believe me when I tell you I got a big scar. Man, God made marriage to be for life. That’s why you gotta keep your vows to Catherine.
Ah, I see. So you poke your nose into other people’s business because you still have a guilt complex about your own divorce.
Also, “ruined her life“? Sounds like things turned out just fine. You both found other people to love. I mean, sorry that she was an independent person with thoughts and feelings of her own, and didn’t sit on the couch, just waiting for you to come back, but them’s the breaks when you’re dealing with a human being.
Unless…by “I ruined her life,” Michael means that he was a husband like Caleb, abusive and neglectful. Does he mean that? Or does he only mean that divorce automatically ruins a woman’s life, whether she moves on to love with someone else or not?
Either way, Caleb nods seriously, the message clear: Divorce makes God cry, so the only thing to do, regardless of the damage you’ve already inflicted on your spouse, is to stay together, no matter what. Catherine will just have to learn to take it and like it, I guess.
Will Catherine take it and like it? Will Caleb ever get around to telling her anything? Stay tuned!