Monthly Archives: July 2014
While Caleb bonds with a man friend…Catherine is bonding with a man friend, too!
I know the movie wants us to think that Doctor What’s-His-Name is a slimeball (spoiler alert: he is one), but here he just so happens to be doing one of the many, many things that Caleb hasn’t done: he listens to Catherine. He lets her talk about her feelings and doesn’t judge her. He commends her for helping her parents. (This is an especially noteworthy compliment, as it’s an issue Catherine is very sensitive about—remember when Caleb first screamed a list of insults in her face? The one she objected to was “selfish.”)
The boys (of course Albany, Georgia doesn’t have any female firefighters. Don’t be ridiculous.) head out to a house fire. Long story short, it’s pretty bad, and a little girl is trapped inside, natch.
For all his talk (even in the truck on the way to this very fire) about sticking with your partner, Caleb…crawls into the house on his own, looking for the kid. Everyone else sticks at the front of the house and are separated from Caleb when some of the roof caves.
So, Caleb is trapped in a back bedroom with the kid, but without his partner. Because he left his partner.
Oh, and for reasons best known to himself, Caleb deliberately set down his walkie-talkie before heading into the house. So he has no way of letting anyone know exactly where her is.
And, and, he can’t break a window because they’re all barred.
Now, I am about as far from being an expert on firefighting as it is possible to be, but is it really advisable for Caleb to take off his oxygen mask and his firefighting jacket, and put them on the unconscious kid? Doesn’t Caleb need them more at this moment? I mean, I keep thinking about being on an airplane—secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others. Because if Caleb is injured or collapses from smoke inhalation, they’re both screwed. Isn’t it better, instead of wasting time fumbling with the gear, to get them both out as quickly as possible so the kid can get medical attention?
But it’s probably okay, because Caleb prays!
Caleb: God, get me out of here. Get us out of here.
God: Sure thing, Caleb. Just radio your crew, and…oh. Right. You left your walkie-talkie outside like a dumbass, Caleb.
Anyway, Caleb uses his fire axe to break through the floor. (And expends a lot of energy doing so, necessitating some heavy breathing. Gee, sure would be nice to have an oxygen mask about now, eh, Caleb? It’s one of those basement-less houses that sits on cinderblocks, so Caleb crawls out, dragging the kid, and makes it away Just In Time.
(btw, you can see a lot of the fire scenes in the trailer)
Phew. I was worried there.
In the hospital, Catherine checks in on Caleb just as the nurse (I can only assume she’s a nurse, because she’s a she) is dressing Caleb’s partial thickness burn on his arm.
I can only assume he wouldn’t have gotten that had he kept his jacket on, but I digress.
The nurse then tells Catherine that Caleb only has first-degree burns, and this movie should have found a medical advisor, because partial thickness burns are second-degree burns, not first-degree burns, so Caleb has both first- and second-degree burns.
The doctor in attendance is Flirty Doctor What’s-His-Face, who reacts with some surprise to hearing that Caleb is Catherine’s husband. Which, okay, if he is surprised that this particular guy is Catherine’s husband, but he shouldn’t be surprised that Catherine has a husband (separated-in-all-but-name though they are) because Catherine was wearing her wedding ring until three weeks ago.
Catherine: Well, let me get out of your way.
Nurse: Oh, no, you’re not in our way; you can stay.
Catherine: No, it’s alright. I’ll let you do your jobs. *walks away*
Let me say right now—I will never get tired of seeing Catherine blow off Caleb. (Especially since I know it won’t last much longer. Sad face.)
Caleb and Flirty Doctor have a moment when the nurse heads off to get more gauze. Caleb put his wedding ring back on his burned and swollen hand. (Gee, sure would have been nice if you had been wearing some protective gear inside that burning house, eh, Caleb?) Flirty Doctor advises that he should keep the ring off until the hand has a chance to heal.
Caleb: My hand’s gonna have to heal with this on my finger.
People are so silly when they purposely go through pain to prove a point. I mean, Jesus, Caleb, put the ring on a chain and wear it or something. I can only hope that God would understand.
An aside: I know that the whole wedding ring bit is supposed to be the proof that Caleb is officially a Changed Man, but to me, a better demonstration of changedness would have been for Caleb to check on the condition of the little girl he saved. But that’s just me.
Caleb’s changedness doesn’t extend to his mom, of course.
Caleb: *on the phone* Mom, it’ll be fine. It’s gonna heal up in a couple of weeks. … Yes, I’ve got it wrapped up right now. Can I speak with Dad, please? Okay, Mom, I got it. Now, would you please hand the phone to Dad? Thank you. *to John* Dad, would you please ask Mom to cut me some slack?
Young man, I will slap that smart mouth of yours right now, you keep disrespecting your mother like that!
Sadly, John says nothing like that. Instead, he just lets Caleb brag on how he’s received so many requests for interviews.
Caleb: Seems I’m a hero with everybody in the world except my wife.
Sorry it’s a short one this time, guys. Been a long week at work and I need to catch some sleep.
Next time: Caleb confronts his porn addiction!
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, not 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!
For those of you who get TBN, tonight there will be not one, but two Christian movies!
Left Behind III is delightfully bad, though not something I’ll be reviewing, since that is clearly in Fred Clark’s territory. 😉
This is a series I have thought about reviewing–whaddaya think???
The next evening, we get a scene cutting back and forth between Caleb bitching at his coworker about Catherine, and Catherine commiserating with her girlfriends over dinner. Just to show how unbiblical the girlfriends are, they even offer Catherine a place to stay until the divorce is finalized. Catherine declines, because “he’s the problem, not me.” Which I suppose is the movie’s way of telling us that the scene we saw of the yelling and bullying couldn’t possibly be abuse, could it? Because Catherine isn’t afraid to live in the same house as Caleb. Sigh.
Caleb once again brings up the “R” word, and (as Catherine simultaneously predicts in the cut) opines that the marriage has been just fine for the last year or so, until Catherine “went off the deep end.” Being a woman, Catherine is, of course, “emotional about everything” and “way too sensitive.” (Cut to Catherine crying into her ice water over Caleb’s insensitivity.)
Ha! Women and men, amirite?
(Catherine never does bring up the whole driving-her-into-a-corner incident. Guess it’s just not worth mentioning.)
The next day, two cars of teens (two boys in one car, two girls in the other) flirtatiously drag race to the local pizza joint…with predictably disastrous results. The girls (of course it’s the girls; don’t be silly) get their car stuck on the train tracks, and both are too injured to move.
Cue Caleb and his fire crew to the rescue, I guess to prove that he really is a rockin’ hero when he’s not terrorizing his wife.
Later, Caleb’s parents, Cheryl and John, visit while Catherine is out, and we really get to the heart of the issue.
Caleb: I mean, I walk in the door, and she’s mad about something.
Cheryl: Have you given her a reason to be upset? I’ve never known Catherine to be unreasonable.
Caleb: I could have saved the lives of two people at work, and if I’m not here helping wash the dishes, I’m a horrible husband.
Cheryl: But, Caleb, she needs your help here as well. Doesn’t she help her parents out every week? She can’t do everything around here.
Caleb: Now you sound like you’re taking her side.
Cheryl: Caleb, she’s working every day, and she’s trying–
Caleb: Mom, I do not need you telling me I’m doing everything wrong! I’ve got Catherine for that! I am not the problem; she is.
Cheryl: All I’m saying is–
John: Cheryl, Cheryl, let’s hear Caleb out. I want to know what’s going on with him.
Caleb: Dad, could I please have a few minutes to talk with you? Alone?
Cheryl: Caleb, I just want to help you and Catherine—
Caleb: *world’s most long-suffering look* Dad?
John: Honey, why don’t you let us take a walk? It’s a’ight.
And so, Caleb and John head out for a walk, while Cheryl stays behind, alone, in Caleb and Catherine’s house. Guess she can make herself useful and wash a dish or two, Mom, geez.
So, basically, if Caleb isn’t busy yelling at his wife, he spends his time running down his mother.
Two seconds later:
Caleb: Dad, why did you have to bring her?
Caleb makes his mother sound like a particularly messy pet.
Caleb: She—she—she just grates on me.
Speaking of grates, Caleb, you are an ungrateful dickweed.
Like I said, now we’re getting down to it. Caleb hates women. And feels the need to surround himself with nothing but men, both professionally and socially. Gee, that couldn’t possibly be because he hates and fears the female of the species, could it?
John mentions that his and Cheryl’s marriage wasn’t always the best it could have been (Caleb agrees), and John, of course, credits God.
John: The Lord did a work in us.
Caleb isn’t having any of that crap. And by this time, they’re wandered onto a former Bible camp, complete with wooden cross, and John keeps on with the Jesus talk. Caleb, making sense for once in his life, cuts off John, stating simply that the religion thing “Is not for me.”
Oh, but Caleb, the love of Jesus is for everyone!
(Because we all know that Christians never have marital problems. Snerk.)
This is the point at which Caleb’s dad challenges him to hold off on the divorce lawyer for 40 days, so that he can do what his parents did to save their marriage. John basically guilts Caleb into it, but Caleb strikes me as kind of a lazy-ass, anyway, so I don’t think he was in a hurry to get the ball rolling on the divorce.
(This scene is a bit painful to watch for a whole ‘nother reason, too. This movie takes place in Georgia and both John and Cheryl speak with Southern accents. Caleb, who has presumably spent his whole life in the state, doesn’t have a trace of an accent. Now, I accept that not every actor can do accents, but since Kirk Cameron can’t, you’d think the solution would be to hire actors with his accent as his parents, and drop a line in about the family being transplants or something.)
Brief scene of Catherine and cute Dr. Keller having lunch together at the hospital cafeteria. He’s coming on just a bit strong, though Catherine has ditched her wedding ring…
In most Christian films, there is a Smug Christian Jerk to help our hero on his path to the salvation of Jesus Christ. Often, this Smug Jerk is a woman, like Noella Wright or Joella Ratchford or Kristin Reed. Or even Jesus himself (sorta).
In Fireproof, the role is split in unequal parts between Caleb’s dad, John, and Caleb’s coworker, Michael Simmons. Caleb’s dad isn’t so bad, really, but Michael’s smug jerkiness is almost on the Ratchford level.
Caleb explains (damn, you’d think by this time his family and coworkers would be so sick of hearing how awful his wife is) that he and Catherine are too different now to reconcile.
Michael: Caleb, salt and pepper are completely different. … But you always see them together.
To illustrate his point, Michael superglues together the station’s salt and pepper shakers. Ooookay, dude. You just…do whatever you feel is right, I guess.
Michael: Caleb, when two people get married, it’s for better or for worse. For richer or for poorer. In sickness and in health.
Caleb, who, for once, might be thinking of somebody other than himself, tries to pull apart the shakers. Michael stops him.
Michael: Don’t do it, Caleb. If you pull them apart now, you’ll break either one or both of them.
Caleb switches gears.
Caleb: I am not a perfect person, but better than most.
Nah, Caleb, for all his faults, has actually contributed to saving lives.
Michael pounds the point home yet again, finally pushes Caleb to snap at him not to “abuse” the privilege of being able to speak so freely to his boss, and stalks away.
Well, yeah, Caleb, you are the resident expert on abuse.
I’m on the fence on this exchange. On the one hand, Michael is being a smug jerk. On the other hand, Caleb is the one who keeps yammering on and on and on about his marriage, so I can hardly blame Michael for having an opinion.
John’s gift for Caleb arrives in the mail. (Question: why didn’t John just drive it over if it’s so important? They live in the same town, after all.)
Looks like John handwrote this book, and it’s really kind pretty. (Looking, I mean. Not sounding.) The Love Dare challenges Caleb to go one day at a time for 40 days, new challenge every day. The first day’s challenge is to say nothing negative to your spouse. Which I’m thinking shouldn’t be hard for Caleb to achieve—he should just call Day One a day when he’s on his 48-hour shift, ha-ha!
Naturally, a Bible verse accompanies the Day One plan. James 1:19.
Heh. “Slow to anger.” Caleb will have a great time with that one.
But no, Caleb plays fair and does Day One on a day he’s at home. He asks Catherine to take his clothes to the cleaners’, and she asks why he couldn’t have taken care of it himself.
And, um, yeah. First of all, even if they were “together,” he had two days to do it himself. And hell, they’re basically separated, living in separate rooms, and prepping for divorce. Why does she still have to run his errands?
So, following the letter of the Love Dare, Caleb just stalks out in a huff, but doesn’t actually say anything.
What a man.
Day Two challenge is to do one unexpected nice thing for your spouse. Caleb goes ALL OUT for this one and pours Catherine a cup of coffee before she gets to the kitchen.
Catherine: I don’t have time for coffee. *hurries out the door to work*
I kinda love Catherine at this moment.
Day Three is to buy something nice for your spouse. Caleb cheaps out on a half-assed bouquet and bitsy box of chocolates. (Though I have to say, he way overpaid even on that. The flowers alone here cost twenty-five dollars. I could have gone to Trader Joe’s and got something much prettier for less than half of that.)
Catherine doesn’t give a shit, anyway.
Comic relief at the fire station. Hot sauce contest. Caleb cheats because he is a dirty cheating cheater who cheats. (He drinks tomato juice out of his hot sauce bottle and fools the rookie. Big man.)
Caleb calls Catherine at the hospital to “check on you.” Catherine is understandably confused and I am creeped out, but it is, of course, the Day Four challenge.
Call your spouse! Damn, this Love Dare does not let up on the excitement!
Surely this will piece back together this horrible marriage. I mean, who isn’t rooting for these two by now?
What will the next 36 days bring? Stay tuned!
You guys, my very first Kirk Cameron movie! Mike Seaver! Buck FREAKING Williams! Robin to Ray Comfort’s Batman! (If Batman was an ignorant blowhard with no understanding of science or research.)
Okay, so we know right away that a movie starring Buck Williams, dealing with Christian marriage, is going to be screwy, right? Right. And we get started in the very first scene!
Little Catherine (we never see her, we just hear her voice as the camera pans across the stereotypically little-princess room, complete with “Daddy’s Little Girl” pink placard on the wall):
I want to marry Daddy.
Okay, I get that little kids say weird things, but when Little Catherine’s mommy explains that Daddy is her husband, Little Catherine presses the point, and finally settles on a plan to marry someone “just like daddy.”
Daddy is a fireman.
I think we all know where this is going.
Sure, enough, 25 years later, Catherine is stuck in a joyless, loveless marriage with an abusive jerk. But hey, at least he’s a firefighter! So, Mission Accomplished, eh?
Said abusive jerk is one Caleb Holt, fire captain (*snicker*) in Athens, Georgia. He is introduced with the theme of the movie: he scolds a firefighter under his command that “you never leave your partner.”
Ha, bet Caleb won’t learn that the same principle applies to marriage!! 😀
Catherine, meanwhile, has grown up to become a PR person at the hospital. She is introduced by expositioning to a friend about the fact that her mother had a stroke a year ago, and needs a new hospital bed and wheelchair, which insurance won’t cover.
I wonder how most conservative Christians feel about the fact that some people can’t afford medical equipment…
On her way out, Catherine literally bumps into cute Dr. Gavin Keller, leading to a knowing look from the two nurses nearby, who theorize that Gavin has a crush on her.
I hesitate to even bring this up, but here goes: the two nurses are black. And the black women in this movie seem to be written just a tad stereotypically, addressing Catherine as “Cat, girl,” and ending many sentences with “mmmm-hmmmm.” Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate seeing people of color on the screen, given how incredibly white Christian films tend to be.
Quick scene of Catherine visiting her parents. Mom hasn’t regained any speech since the stroke. That’s sad. Catherine’s dad was a firefighter and also a nice person, and in marrying a guy “just like him,” Catherine only opted for the former characteristic, not the latter. That is also sad.
Back at Casa Holt, we see that Catherine and Caleb barely even acknowledge each other’s existence. This is at least partially explained by the fact that Caleb works on a 24-hours-on, 48-hours-off schedule, which basically translates to husband and wife seeing each other for about one hour per week.
They argue about breakfast, with Caleb immediately setting the tone by telling Catherine “Don’t get smart with me” when she suggests that if he wants some groceries, he could always, yanno, go to the store.
Caleb and Catherine are about my age. “Don’t get smart with me” isn’t even a phrase I associate with my parents’ generation. I can picture my grandfather saying it. Maybe.
More exposition reveals that Caleb has managed to squirrel away $24,000 over the years, and is planning on buying a boat. Catherine argues that they could use the money on the house, but it’s hard for me not to agree with Caleb that the things she suggests (painting a door, putting shelves in a closet) are minor preferences. Hell, I even agree that if they’re important to her but not to him, why not use her paycheck on them.
(This all made me curious, so I did some very quick and general research. An experienced firefighter in Georgia could make $50,000-60,000 per year, possibly more since he’s the chief of the station. And a hospital PR specialist could make roughly the same. That is a very comfy household income, especially for a childfree couple.)
A pointless scene at the gym (oooo, so manly, Buck!) where Caleb complains that he gets no “respect.” Again, very…old world complaint for a man.
Or maybe the men in my family are just too progressive, who knows. 😉 They do tend to run to more successful marriages than the Holt marriage, though.
Not that that’s saying a lot.
Hell, it’s not saying much of anything.
Sweaty and stinky from the gym, Caleb berates Catherine for not fixing him any dinner (she assumed he was eating with his gym buddy), then starts into a general complaining rant about their marriage. Naturally, it sets him off when Catherine states that she feels “pressure” from taking care of the house all by herself, plus helping her parents. Because nobody feels pressure except for firefighters.
Catherine brings up Caleb’s porn addiction. (The words “porn addiction” are never used, to the best of my memory, but I’ll keep my ears open as we go along.) Instead, she calls it “looking at that trash” online.
The movie considers this to be Caleb’s Big Problem. The one worst thing about his behavior as a husband. But I think they’re overlooking the real Big Problem, which occurs about three seconds later…
Caleb slams a cupboard shut and starts shrieking in Catherine’s face. Flinging an accusing finger at her face again and again, he bullies her into a corner of the kitchen, still screaming at levels that would cause some neighbors to call the cops. (They don’t in the movie. But if I heard a man screaming at a woman like that, I sure as hell would consider it.)
Caleb: SHUT UP! I’M SICK OF YOU! YOU DISRESPECTFUL, UNGRATEFUL, SELFISH WOMAN!
Catherine: *murmurs* I’m not self–
Caleb: YOU CONSTANTLY NAG ME AND YOU DRAIN THE LIFE OUTTA ME! I’M TIRED OF IT! IF YOU CAN’T GIVE ME THE RESPECT I DESERVE– *Catherine’s face is turned away in fright* —LOOK AT ME! –THEN WHAT’S THE POINT OF THIS MARRIAGE?
Caleb finally takes a breath and turns away, giving Catherine enough time to whimper the magic words:
Catherine: I want out.
And that is fine with Caleb.
Oh, excuse me…
Caleb: THAT’S FINE WITH ME!
With that, Caleb storms out of the house, leaving Catherine sobbing and shaking. Since actually striking a woman is the one line he hasn’t crossed, he instead takes out his feelings on a poor, innocent trash can that never hurt anybody.
Seriously. After screaming at and berating his wife and driving her into a corner, he still has unexpressed rage.
Oh. And this also leads to one of the “running gags” of the movie, which is that every time Caleb storms out of the house to beat up inanimate objects, an elderly neighbor just so happens to be standing there, watching.
Yanno, I want to make jokes here, I really do, but I just find myself coming back to one question: would this movie ever come right out and say that Caleb has abused Catherine?
I’m betting not. Indeed, if you check out the Fireproof website, it says only that Caleb and Catherine have “regular arguments.” And that both are ready to “move on.”
But that’s really not what’s going on here. Caleb is abusing his wife. Emotionally, verbally, and physically. Sure, he’s not actually striking her with his fist (which I am willing to bet is the technicality the movie wants us to always bear in mind), but he’s backing her into a corner (literally), shaking a finger in her face, jabbing it at her, and using his greater height and weight against her.
How is that not physical abuse?
Does a worldview that states that the only true grounds for divorce are adultery, abandonment, and abuse…admit that Caleb is abusing Catherine?
I’m betting not. I’m betting this is all meant to show us not an abusive relationship, but an unbiblical one, where the wife is not sufficiently respecting the husband. (This is the second time Caleb has brought this up, and though it seems a ridiculous idea to me, in light of his behavior, I don’t think this is what the movie wants me to think.)
For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body.
As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
See? Caleb only wants what is right and proper in his marriage. Sure, he doesn’t Know Christ yet, and he’s going about this in the wrong way, but his thoughts are only natural, right?
Phew. That’s actually a lot of ground covered in the first fifteen minutes of the movie. No worries, though: once Caleb starts trying to repair the marriage (har), things start to drag.
Like, a lot.
Can this marriage be saved? Should it be saved? Discuss!
So I was leafing through my collection of Christian movies. (Yes, I have a whole collection.) And I still want to make this a summer full of movies, including Pamela’s Prayer (my own personal One That Started It All), as well as at least one more Teenage film and maybe another (very early) Christiano work.
But I was feeling the need to do something a bit more modern, a bit more…Kirk Cameron-y…
I have never seen this before and just got it into my DVD player today. So looking forward to watching Kirk “Buck Williams” Cameron pretend to be a tough-as-nails firefighter!