...because we all have our motley moments!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Last night my husband and I watched this movie. I didn't expect much from it; in fact, the only reason we watched it was because our church is thinking about doing small groups about marriage and they want to use the Fireproof materials, so they encouraged us to watch the movie since we want to lead one such group.
I'm going to be honest here - I hated it. While I respect the filmmakers' effort and agree with the underlying principles of the movie (Jesus can change your life, marriage is hard work), I thought that the movie was poorly written, the acting abysmal, the dialogue weak, and the whole story unbelievable and silly. Plus, it's just too simplistic.
Now, I've had several people tell me they've seen God work in people's lives and marriages through this movie. That's great, it truly is. However, I think Fireproof is drivel.
The truth is, I have a problem with a lot of "Christian" art. For instance, you've probably seen those t-shirts that look like a name-brand logo but are actually a Bible verse or something, like "Jesus" written like "Coca-Cola." It's not "Jesus on a t-shirt" that I have a problem with. It's the lack of creativity. Also, it always annoyed me at youth camp when we would sing secular songs that had been re-written with religious lyrics. What are we saying - that Christians are incapable of coming up with their own songs and t-shirt designs? Christian fiction and music are another area where mediocrity flourishes, although there are exceptions (Frank Peretti and Third Day come to mind). It frustrates me that "Christian" media is so often sub-par. It just perpetuates what our culture already thinks about us - that we're stupid, narrow-minded, and not creative at all.
So you don't think I'm entirely a cynic, I am interested to see the materials that my church wants to use for small groups. I think Fireproof the movie is probably a good jumping-off place for a marriage class, but as a film, it doesn't work. I read one review of the movie that said it's probably great for a Bible study, but doesn't belong in theaters, and I think that pretty much sums it up for me. Well, and this quote from the book Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell:

It is possible for music to be labeled Christian and be terrible music. It could lack creativity and inspiration. The lyrics could be recycled cliches. That "Christian" band could actually be giving Jesus a bad name because they aren't a great band. It is possible for a movie to be a "Christian" movie and to be a terrible movie. It may actually desecrate the art form in its quality and storytelling and craft. Just because it is a Christian book by a Christian author and it was purchased in a Christian bookstore doesn't mean it is all true or good or beautiful. A Christian political group puts me in an awkward position: What if I disagree with them? Am I less of a Christian? What if I am convinced the "Christian" thing to do is to vote the exact opposite?

Christian is a great noun and a poor adjective.


Lindsay said...

To be honest I was a little worried to read this today but I actually liked the movie okay. Not that I liked it really, but I liked what it made you think about when you walked away from it.

Then I read this post and I agree with all of it. My hubby does even more. :) He won't even listen to "Christian" music for the most part (there are a rare few) because he like you thinks that it's poorly done, and he hates it when they just sing the same song or an "updated" version of the same song that's been done 1000 times. I however listen to it because that's what I want my kids to hear.

So I totally agree that the movies wasn't the greatest, and just labeling it "Christian' doesn't make it "good". But I do have to say that sometimes it's not the movie itself but what happens at home after the movie is over that means more.

I do have the book and small group material (our church did it also). I haven't read it all because we missed some of it, but it was pretty good. Like most material you just make it work for the group you are with. It could be really boring, or people could get a lot out of it.

Liz said...

"But I do have to say that sometimes it's not the movie itself but what happens at home after the movie is over that means more." - Very well said, Lindsay. We are going to get the materials while we're on vacation and start reading them. And you're right - our small group will be what we make of it, regardless of what book we use.
I do listen to Christian music. It has gotten a lot better over the years. Plus, like you, I want my kids to hear wholesome stuff and Christian stations guarantee that.

Rachel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bryssy said...

We watched Fireproof a couple of months ago. No, it wasn't a great movie, but I liked the lesson. Marriage is hard. I would be interested in looking at the "Love Dare" book.

Christian media (okay, media in general) doesn't thrill me. I get what they were trying to do with Fireproof and I think it's a good thing. Movies take a certain amount of "disbelief" for you to buy into them. Fireproof probably required more than the norm, but they are just that, made up, fiction. So I guess we just have to keep our expectations low and increase our "disbelief" quotient if we are going to watch them. And, that is okay with me.

Lindsay said...

Brystal I have the Love Dare book if you want to look at it.

Velmer said...

I haven't seen the movie but I am willing to guess I have seen better film on my teeth! The problem with Christian movies and fiction is that they make an incredible error when approaching the art. One great writer once said that you must never let your story serve your message but rather let your message serve your story. All of the greatest books in history seem to follow this rule including, I believe, the Bible.

fawnda said...

Your right, Fireproof is not the greatest, BUT I am glad that there was FINALLY some "Christian" meida in the theaters. I think that "Christian" films will not get better if there is no support for them. Unfortunitally if we want better actors and better sets it takes some money!

I also like that it did walk through how to become a follower of Christ. AND it talked about how marriage is hard and takes work! A great message!

We are all proof that God can take JUNK and use it for His glory!

Pam said...

Wow Liz, thanks for going out on a limb and being original. I have not seen the movie yet, but I am sad to hear this, only because I was in love with Kirk Cameron when I was in high school. Your thoughts today were very interesting. I have always liked the idea of writing, and challenging Christians to produce quality art is GREAT! If you want to make the sale, you have to have a great product. It was great to hear from all of you - I miss you Florida girls.

Liz said...

Fawnda, I agree with everything you said.
Pam, I miss you, too! Don't avoid the movie because of me. I'm beginning to wonder if I missed something.
Brystal, good point about suspended disbelief.

Ginny said...

Bad Lieutenant by Abel Ferrara is probably one of the most offensive disturbing movies I've seen, but at the end of the day the Lieutenant is bewildered because of the mercy the nun decides to show the villains. This movie is probably on the other spectrum of this pendulum. But probably more secular people have watched Bad Lieutenant than Fireproof. Christian media is probably more for Christians and yet there's always a salvation message. If we as "Christians" should be doing our outreach jobs should we not be doing secular media with Christian themes?