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Lt. Caleb Holt lives by the old firefighter's adage: Never leave your partner behind. Inside burning buildings, it's his natural instinct. In the cooling embers of his marriage, it's another story. After a decade of marriage, Caleb and Catherine Holt have drifted so far apart that they are ready to move on without each other. Yet as they prepare to enter divorce proceedings, Caleb's dad asks his son to try an experiment: The Love Dare. While hoping The Love Dare has nothing to do with his parents' newfound faith, Caleb commits to the challenge. But can he attempt to love his wife while avoiding God's love for him? Will he be able to demonstrate love over and over again to a person that's no longer receptive to his love? Or is this just another marriage destined to go up in smoke?
A feel-good drama, Fireproof has a strong agenda: stay married, lead an honest life, and let your faith in a higher power help guide you. A still boyish-looking Kirk Cameron Growing Pains stars as Caleb Holt, a mercurial-tempered firefighter whose marriage is on the rocks. He clearly enjoys his status as a hero, but it comes at the expense of his marriage. His wife Catherine Erin Bethea is tired of the distance and wants him to make more of an effort at home, rather than surf porn on the Internet and hoard his earnings toward his dream fishing boat instead of helping out her disabled mother. Faced with impending divorce, Caleb's dad challenges him to follow the "40-day love dare," in which each task cook her dinner, say nothing negative, etc. is meant for him to better understand love and commitment and try and win his wife back. The third film by brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, Fireproof is the siblings' most polished feature. Cameron does a fine job of making Caleb real and believable, even when we're not always liking him. Though saddled at times with maudlin lines, Cameron adds emotion and range to his role. There is a not so subtle theme that the Holts--who at the beginning of the film are agnostic--needed religion to save their marriage. Clearly, Fireproof believes in its agenda and was made with the Christian audience in mind. Whether secular audiences will fall under its spell as well is debatable. But no one should walk away from the film offended. --Jae-Ha Kim