Monday, March 16, 2009

Ring of Fire

I finally saw Fireproof this weekend. I have resisted seeing it because I didn’t like Facing the Giants, and What’s-His-Name who plays the lead irritates me. All that stuff about not kissing anyone but his wife, even for a movie. Sheesh. That seems like one of the advantages of being an actor, getting to kiss lots of people, maybe even of both genders. But I shouldn’t make fun of him for that. I guess. Maybe. He has principles and just because they make me giggle doesn’t mean they aren’t serious business for him, and rather noble and all that.

Anyway, Dear Husband got hold of a copy and it was clear there was no avoiding watching it at some point. I enjoyed it much more than I expected. The acting was pretty good, and where it was amateurish it seemed churlish to make a fuss about it. Here were all these people working for a film they believed in, and gosh darn it giving it their best shot, and I ended up rooting for the poorest actors just because they were trying. There were some parts that were quite humorous, although I wasn’t sure what they were doing there except adding some levity, and I’ll concede that some levity was much needed. The firefighter who gave a little performance in front of a mirror should have his own sitcom.

Fireproof (and Facing the Giants) was filmed in my hometown. I find that not a little amazing. Albany has to be one of the most boring places on the face of the earth. At least that’s how it was for me. I’m a big city girl. I can’t stand to be that far away from a cultural center. Albany isn’t small enough to be considered a small town, big enough to be a true city (not enough books, education and culture) or rural enough to be the country. It’s a bit like an extended suburb with elements of city and country scattered over and around it. It was interesting to see it in film. It’s very flat there. Pancake flat. Lots of trees hanging with Spanish moss. Lots of gnats (The final shot is of a wedding cake, sitting out in the open. My thought was: if that were truly sitting out in the open in Albany GA, it would be covered with insect life and half melted.). I hated that place. A lot. So I’m glad to see that Sherwood Baptist Church has sown a little acre of creativity. If I ever go back to visit, perhaps I’ll see the Good Life City with new eyes. Or at least without the feeling that I could be snared by its sticky web and stuck there forever, gnawed on my giant spiders. Ahem.

For the most part the movie avoided squirm inducing Christian-y dialogue. I was so thankful that What’s-His-Name didn’t go all gushy about Jesus that I could have phoned him up and praised him for his restraint. There was one scene that made me roll my eyes, when the Fount of All Wisdom father talks to What’s-His-Name about forgiving however much you are rejected, and he ends up standing right under a cross. That conveniently placed cross, ready to glow in the light of grace and a beautiful sunset. Barf. Then we get the usual blood atonement speech which miraculously convinces What’s-His-Name that he needs salvation. Just like that. The kind of little talk that would have made me run screaming for the blessed hills of atheism. That’s just me, half heathen that I am.

But like I said, I was so thankful that What’s-His-Name didn’t start talking like a reject from TBN that I could have kissed him, if kissing were allowed. He didn’t run to the firehouse and babble excitedly to everyone who didn’t want to listen, or institute regular prayer meetings at the ol fire station, or go home and announce his conversion to his wife and drag her off to church where she too sees the light and is baptized on the spot, start handing out tracts at the local bus station, or make himself into an obnoxious idiot in any way. He even managed to look like a regular person instead of a Godly Man. Amen.

The message of the movie was great. I had nothing to complain of there. Love is an action and a choice. The situations were believable. He was an utter dick and he finally came to understand his essential dickishness through a series of deliberate actions he had no desire to undertake or any real hope of completing successfully. Christ will work a change in you, and you don’t have to sound like a bad evangelical preacher to convey that.

Now, a little confession. I have to admit that for much of the movie I kept thinking that What’s-His-Name was looking kinda hot. I seem to remember him looking like an utter goofball, but he was definitely easy on the eyes in this film, lean and wiry, hair cut close, revealing, much to my surprise, a rather nice face. The man who played his friend and fellow firefighter was also pleasing in all aspects of his being. I’m not sure that’s what the director and writers had in mind. I am probably very bad.

Oh, yeah. Kirk Cameron. Why can I never remember his name?

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