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Fireproof

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Derek ArmstrongThe veteran of three Rapture-themed Left Behind movies, Kirk Cameron again does the good work of the Lord in Fireproof, an earnest and slightly less godly manual on how to save your failing marriage. Cameron's faith has dominated his career for awhile now, but the difference this time is the approach. Cameron and writer-director-producer-editor Alex Kendrick use neither fire nor brimstone in promoting their godly path. Actually, the role of the Lord is relatively limited in the 40-day "love dare," a guide used by Cameron's Georgia firefighter to salvage a marriage that's quickly headed for divorce. Appearances of Christian vocabulary like "God" and "savior" will squarely remind viewers of the agenda of Provident Films/Sherwood Pictures (makers of Facing the Giants), but Fireproof manages to focus on these characters' relationship to each other more than their relationship to Christ. It's a competent production that has room for both big set pieces (several daring rescues) and some pretty self-effacing humor (two firefighters chug a hot sauce called Wrath of God). Since Cameron is about the only Hollywood veteran here, it would be no surprise if the acting were deficient, but that's not really the case. Especially impressive is Erin Bethea as the disenchanted wife. The pretty actress doesn't have much screen experience and was originally slated for a nonspeaking role, but she combines with Cameron to inject their scenes with true emotion -- some of which spreads (like a fire, one might say) to the audience. Fireproof can't be expected to exceed that fringe quality shared by most Christian movies, but it did amass an impressive 33 million dollars at the box office. More importantly, its religious message doesn't prevent it from remembering how to be a movie. It has a satisfying dramatic arc and enough humor to balance out its more reverential moments. Derek Armstrong, All Movie Guide