Fireproof: Part 2
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!