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By the time Growing Pains was a hit I had somewhat outgrown television sitcoms, so I was not a big Kirk Cameron fan when he was a television star. But I heard that he had become a Christian and that he was taking flack for some of the moral stands he was taking, even during the latter years of Growing Pains. As he grew in his walk with the Lord, I became more impressed with Kirk's commitment to biblical Christianity.
I have been particularly impressed with Kirk's work with Ray Comfort and Way of the Master, an in-depth evangelism training program that equips believers to take the Gospel to the streets.
Despite my excitement over his evangelism endeavors, I was still not a big fan of his acting. I'm also not a big fan of so-called "Christian" movies. In my experience, they are often poorly written, poorly acted, and most often "preachy." So when I was recently invited to an advanced screening of the new Kirk Cameron film, Fireproof, I almost didn't go.
But I'm glad I did.
Fireproof, coming to theaters September 26th, is the third feature film from Sherwood Pictures, the creators of the surprisingly successful Facing the Giants and Flywheel. Directed and Produced by the Kendrick brothers, Alex and Stephen, Fireproof is a challenging look at marriage and what the meaning of love truly is.
The amazing thing about these movies is that they were all produced by one single local church with a cast and crew of volunteers.
In Fireproof, Cameron plays firefighter Caleb Holt opposite church member Erin Bethea who plays his wife, Catherine. Like his fellow actors and crew, Cameron worked as a volunteer, though the production will donate to Camp Firefly, the not-for-profit family camp he and his wife founded in 1991.
Unlike his Mike Seaver character in Growing Pains, Kirk Cameron plays an adult role in Fireproof with a problem that is sadly all too common in society today -- the breakup of a marriage. To my delight, he plays the role with sensitivity and maturity. After only a minute or so of Cameron's performance, I believed he was Caleb Holt.
Kirk is that good in this role.
"They called me and said they'd like me to come down and audition for the lead role. They gave me nine scenes to read and all of them were pretty intense emotionally. I had to be angry, frustrated, and tense. I had to be weeping and crying, asking for forgiveness. I had to be strong and in command of a fire rescue scene. I really wanted to do this part … and God opened the door."
"This role is very different from anything else I've played. People will see me do things I've never done before. The range of emotions in this character has been very challenging."
Speaking of the part played by Cameron, co-writer and director Alex Kendrick explains, "Fireman Caleb Holt will run into a burning building to save someone he doesn't know, while he watches his own marriage burn to the ground."
"Fireproof is not the absence of fire, but the ability to withstand it," adds co-writer and producer Stephen Kendrick.
The Kendrick brothers and their pastor, Michael Catt, wanted to speak to the plague of divorce that has affected not only the society at large, but also the Church. "In my lifetime, the divorce rate has climbed to one out of two marriages, and the marriage rate has dropped 30 percent," Pastor Catt observes. "What if we can make a dent in those statistics?"
Another excellent performance is given by Ken Bevel, a first-time actor who plays the part of Lt. Michael Simmons, Caleb's closest friend. Ken is a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps who was able to use his days off and then schedule leave time to fit the shooting schedule around his work.
"I've learned that acting is very challenging, but Marines are always up for a challenge! When they announced the movie, I prayed about it and asked my wife if I should audition. I read for the part and I knew that if it were the Lord's will, I'd be in the movie."
Another respectable performance is given by Erin Bethea who plays the role of Catherine Holt, the wife of Cameron's Caleb Holt. While a longtime member of Sherwood Church, Bethea now lives in Orlando, where she is an equity performer at Disney's Magic Kingdom.
The supporting actors of the firehouse crew and nursing staff both add color and humor to the film -- important elements when dealing with such a serious subject.
The other star in this film is the cinematography thanks to Bob Scott, the Director of Photography. Scott has worked as a cinematographer for more than twenty years, including such notable films as The Bourne Ultimatum, Any Given Sunday and Friday Night Lights. He has also filmed numerous Super Bowls for NFL Films, World Series games, and the Olympics for filmmaker Bud Greenspan. This movie is beautifully shot in and around Albany, Georgia, home to Sherwood Church.
Another key to this movie is The Love Dare, which is featured throughout the film (I won't give anything away, but this helps anchor the story of the film). An expanded edition of this book by Stephen and Alex Kendrick will be released by Broadman and Holman Publishers in the months to come. You will want to check this book out. It will be a wonderful gift to married couples and those planning to wed.
Go see Fireproof on September 26th, and bring your family. This movie could make a difference in your life that will last a lifetime.
Find a theater near you to watch Fireproof
Also check out FireproofMyMarriage.com
Sherwood Baptist Church
Kirk Cameron's Real Life Growing Pains
Facing New Giants: On the Set of Fireproof
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