Friday, May 22, 2009

Chick-fil-A like a mutha

This past Mother's Day, some of the family got together to have a small barbecue. The other mothers in attendance aside from my own mom included my sister and my cousin, both whom I had grown up with in the same house. As teenagers, their cinematic diet included slasher movies, R-rated teen sex comedies and the occasional dirty stand-up compilation. It was a wicked pleasure to be able to watch these "grown-up" movies with them, most of the time without my parents' knowledge. Times change, though, and they are now very much Mommies. My cousin still loves scary movies, but my sister doesn't have the stomach for them. They've both also become regular churchgoers, and that's become a part of their life. I guess it's that whole trying-to-raise-their-kids-properly kinda thing.

Anyway, that Sunday as I munched on my meal with two different generations of mamas, I listened to my sister and cousin extol the virtues of a particular film titled Fireproof. That made me curious, so I asked my sister if she'd let me borrow her copy (of COURSE, she would have a copy), and here I go with a long rundown on the whole flick. For those who don't want to read the whole thing, I'll spoil the ending now: Jesus wins. Okay, now for the rest of the movie.

Fireproof begins with shots of a little girl's room, and we hear the little girl and her mom talking in the background. The girl wants her dad to tuck her in, then she asks her mom if she could marry her father when she grows up. At this point we see a sign on the wall that reads "Daddy's Little Girl". After that, we find a framed photo of the little girl hugging her fireman daddy. 25 years later, we find that the girl is all grown up and married to a firefighter. So she's all fucked up with Daddy issues.

Kirk Cameron plays the firefighter husband (who I'm going to call Mike Seaver) and we're introduced to him chewing out a rookie for leaving a partner alone during a fire. We know this because he tells him "You never leave your partner, especially in a fire", and you realize this shit is going to have a double meaning in this movie. Meanwhile, Daddy's Little Girl (her name is Cat) works in public relations for a hospital and for the sake of the audience, brings us up to speed by telling her nurse friend a bunch of shit that she already probably knows: "Do you know it's been a year since my mom's stroke? I've been trying to get her a new hospital bed and wheelchair, but their insurance doesn't cover it. It's so frustrating for my dad, he wants to help her too but he can't afford it either." Then this handsome doctor shows up and starts flirting with her. Thankfully, the two black nurses watching this whole event decide to clue in the dim bulbs in the audience by saying "If I didn't know any better, I'd say the doctor has a thing for Cat." And if you were to guess that these two nurses then nod their heads and go "Mmmm-hmm!" afterwards, then give yourself a bell!

Mike Seaver comes home and he wants breakfast, but no one's gone grocery shopping. He gives Cat shit about that, and she counters with the fact that his job allows him 48 hours off after working 24, so you know, that's plenty of time to go to the store. This escalates and we find out that she's been trying to get him to do some fixing up on the house, and he suggests that she should use her money for that, because he considers that kinda stuff a "preference" and besides, he's been saving up to buy a boat with his cash. Later on, Seaver goes to work out with his lieutenant, but mostly just bitches at him about how he thinks his marriage is on the rocks. His partner, on the other hand, is pretty much living in perfect harmony with his wife.

Seaver comes home and gets pissed off because Cat ate all the pizza, which he might have a point about because that looked like a large and she ate the whole fuckin' thing. He evens it out by making a dick move of his own by blowing out a scented candle that Cat had just lit. Another argument escalates and we find out that she's been aware of his perusing the internet for more than just pictures of boats. He blows up (a little too strongly) and practically lays the smackdown on the little lady. She tells him she wants a divorce, and now it's fuckin' on. How on? It's so on, that when Seaver goes to bed, he does that shit angrily. He pulls off his shoes and throws them down on the floor, pulls the covers off hard, and slams the door before hitting the hay. I bet he slept with his face all tensed up, making the mad face like Grrr! This is a prime display of anger not seen since Showgirls, when Elizabeth Berkley stabbed the shit out of that soda lid with her straw and then poured the fuck out of a ketchup bottle onto some french fries. Grrr!

There's an interesting scene later on, where we intercut between Seaver bitching to his lieutenant, while Cat is telling all her friends about her marriage problems over dinner. That felt very true to me. I hate to get all Men Are Like This, Women Are Like That, but I think that's a big difference between men and women. A guy will probably talk to only one other guy, someone he really trusts -- a real Bro -- about his problems, and even then in relative privacy. A woman? Blabs that shit out to a whole gaggle of ladies in a public place, like this was fuckin' Oprah or something. The best part is that Seaver tells his friend that he bets his wife is currently crying and having a group hug with her lady friends about the whole deal. Cut to his wife crying and having a group hug with her lady friends.

So two groups of young douchebags decide to have a street race and end up crashing at a railroad crossing. One car is out of danger but the other is stuck on the tracks. The girls inside can't get out and sure enough a train is on the way, so Seaver, the other firefighters and a bunch of bystanders (including a U.S. Marine -- AMERICA, FUCK YEAH!) end up lifting and pushing the vehicle to safety just before it crosses. It's a pretty cool scene, and it ends with a genuine Holy Shit moment when one firefighter is so close to the passing train it knocks his helmet off. For a brief second I thought the motherfucker got decapitated, and apparently he thought so too because afterwards we find him sitting down and crying, thanking God for still having a fuckin' head on his shoulders. Seriously though, there was an instant where I thought I was watching a Christian movie about love and romance that happened to feature a motherfucker's head getting lopped off. That shit would've made me jump out of my seat going "OHHH! CHRISTIAN MOVIES ARE AWESOME!!!".

Back at the station, a discussion between Seaver and one of the firefighters follows. We find out that Seaver is agnostic, or *an* agnostic, whatever the fuck the proper grammar for the use of that word is. We also find out that one of his fellow firefighters is an atheist, and I kept waiting for a moment in the movie where that guy gets owned by falling debris or something and realizes the errors of his non-believing ways. But no, it never happens, the movie doesn't make that kind of judgment on him and I thought that was cool.

Even Mel Gibson couldn't resist pulling some shit in The Passion of the Christ when he had one of the other dying crucified guys basically telling Jesus Christ that he wasn't shit. Here you have a guy rejecting Christ to his face, damning himself to a lonely death and a terrible afterlife. He won't know God's love or the kingdom of Heaven after he dies. That was one of the saddest moments to me, and I thought a pretty strong one -- until a vulture swoops down and tears his eye out of the socket. That's right, according to Mel Gibson, it wasn't enough punishment for this guy, a motherfuckin' vulture had to come down and chomp on his fuckin' eyeball for you to get the point. It's like "Ha ha, that's what you get for not accepting the Lord!". You know what? I liked that movie, but that was an asshole move on Gibson's part and I think it says a lot about the dude in real life. So fuckin' high and mighty, are ya? Yeah, whatever. Go drive drunk and get another chick pregnant, you great example, you. The only thing that will make your divorce sweeter is if your ex-wife's attorneys are all Jewish, that would be pretty fuckin' hilarious.

But if Mike Seaver and Cat get divorced that would be sad, so Mike goes to his parents for advice. Apparently he doesn't want to hear anything his mother has to say, because it gets to the point that this asshole kicks her out of the living room. He couldn't give two shits about her thoughts on the situation. Rather than give his son a backhand smack for disrespecting Moms like that, Mike's dad calmly explains that she's only trying to help. Mike and his father then take a walk in the woods and have a talk about his impending divorce, comparing it to marital problems that Mike's parents had themselves a couple years ago. Mike's dad explains to him that what ultimately saved their marriage was working the Lord into their lives, and maybe if he opens his heart to Jesus, things could improve. At this point, they discover a cross surrounded by wooden stumps off the trail. Supposedly it's a worship area for an old summer camp that used to be in the area, but since this movie is set in Georgia, I suspect this may have been a different kind of cross for a different kind of gathering, and they just never got around to using (read: burning) it.

Mike's dad asks him to hold off on the divorce for 40 days, he wants to send him something in the mail that may help save the marriage and will take that amount of time to use it in its entirety. So it can't be a vibrator, then. Instead, it turns out to be a journal filled with handwritten advice from his father. It's called "The Love Dare" and each page contains something Mike has to do for his wife for that particular day. It's starts off with things like not talking back to your wife or doing something nice for her. But each time he does something, it gets thrown back in his face. So like, he'll make her a cup of coffee for work and she just keeps on walking, ignoring it. Part of the problem is that the damage has already been done, and the other part is that Cat's fuckin' nurse pals have suggested to her that he's buttering her up just so he could divorce her without losing much of his money and property in the process.

More stuff happens that I'm skipping through, like "comic" relief in the form of the various going-ons at the station with the chubby firefighters, more heart-to-hearts between Mike and his lieutenant (also a devout Christian) about stuff like marriage being a lifelong covenant that shouldn't be broken (at one point gluing both a salt and pepper shaker together to make a point -- don't pull them apart or you'll break one of them or both), and more of Mike getting his random acts of kindness thrown back in his face by his wife. Then he goes back to talk with his father.

His father brings up God again, telling Mike that it doesn't matter if he saves lives everyday or is an honest and relatively decent person. If he doesn't accept Jesus Christ and live by God's standards, well, he's burning in Hell for all eternity. That's pretty much what he tells Mike, and I'll be honest with you, it bothered me. For the record, I guess it's safe to say that I'm agnostic, or *an* agnostic, whatever the fuckin' proper grammar is for that statement. I'm not sure if there is a God, but I really hope there is. I really don't want everything to just go fuckin' black after we die, that would suck. But then, how the fuck would you know anyway? You'd be fucking dead. But at least you'd be at peace. No more worries, no more problems. Then some creep would break into the funeral home and start boning you up the ass. IT NEVER ENDS! IT NEVER ENDS! That's an old Sam Kinison bit, by the way. Just giving credit where credit is due.

So it bothers me to hear that people who don't rape or murder or touch kids are going to spend eternity burning in the fires of Hades with those same motherfuckers, howling in torment and knowing nothing but pain forever and ever just because they didn't make like Arnold at the end of End of Days and do the arms-spread-and-head-tilted-up-please-God-help-me deal. Really? It's that cut and dried? So then you mean to tell me that a guy can spend his life sheltering the poor, feeding the hungry, saving lives, etc, but let's say he was an atheist or agnostic. When he dies, he goes to Hell? Meanwhile, some guy who raped old ladies, sliced up little boy's testicles, and pisses in Holy Water everyday -- let's say he repents and accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, he gets to go to Heaven? I'll let Mike's father answer that for me:

"His standards are so high that he considers hatred to be murder and lust to be adultery...saving someone from a fire does not make you right with God. You've broken his commandments, and one day you'll answer to him for that".

I can understand damning the atheists, most of those guys are assholes anyway, just as bad as religious extremists. I don't like anyone who thinks they're so fuckin' sure about everything, no matter which side. Have a little doubt in your life, people. But can't you give us agnostics some slack? We're willing to accept the possibility, man. You don't even have to give us front row seats to the Best Show in Town, just give us the shitty nose-bleed section, that will be cool enough. I can accept that. I can accept having to spend eternity in the cheap seats of Heaven. I won't bitch about not being allowed in the V.I.P section, honest, I won't. I'll go "Oh well, that's what I get for not totally getting into the God thing back when I should have". I don't pretend to know anything about this shit, I'm admitting to being rather uninformed and wanting to know more about the details of this shiznit, but so far I'm more disturbed about it than anything.

Whatever. So Mike Seaver tells his father that for the past 20 days, he's had his showings of love and affection constantly rejected, likening his treatment by his wife as being spat upon daily. Mike's dad then tells Mike that that is exactly what he is doing to God -- rejecting his constant love and affection. So Mike is all like "Damn, Dad. You just dropped some major fuckin' science on me." Count one more on the "Converted" list.

Mike tells the lieutenant, which makes the dude really happy because he's got a new friend to bro out about Jesus with. He then confesses that his perfect marriage wasn't so perfect a few years back, he too had problems with his wife but after becoming a godly man that all changed for the better. Meanwhile, Mike's wife has been becoming a little too chummy with Dr. Lothario, having lunches with him and all but giving him foot jobs under the table. She also tells him about the problems she's been having buying a wheelchair and special bed for her ailing mother, and Dr. Lothario's like "No problem, I'll put some money in. 'Cause that's the kind of guy I am". All this motherfucker needs is a cheesy smile with a sparkles coming from it.

Mike and the firefighters go to a blazing house and Mike saves a little girl inside. It's okay, but the train scene was much better. Too many crying mothers in this sequence. We get it, lady -- she's your baby and she's in there. Mike gets injured and goes to the hospital. Cat heads over to see him, and guess who happens to be treating Mike when she walks up to his bed? If you guessed Dr. Lothario, then give yourself another bell! So you have an awkward moment where both Dr. Lothario and Cat look at each other wondering if they could make it more obvious to Mike that they're not strangers to each other's company. They don't, and Mike doesn't pick up on it.

Later on, Mike is recuperating at home and surfing the web, looking at boats. Just then, a pop-up ad appears on-screen with a girl's face and the words "WANNA SEE" below her. That's as porno as you're going to get in a PG-rated Christian movie. Mike struggles in a battle between his love of God and his aching blue balls, and decides to walk away and pick up the Love Dare book for advice. It happens to be that today's lesson is to destroy any addictions that threaten to steal your heart away from those you love. So Mike takes this to mean that he must take his computer outside and BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF IT WITH A BASEBALL BAT. I'll give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt, because watching a dude put a "Computer for Sale" ad up on the Pennysaver is far less cinematic than just having him go Buford Pusser on the motherfucker.

When Cat comes back home, she finds a huge bouquet of roses left on the table where the computer used to be, along with an envelope containing a note that reads "I Love You More!". When he wakes up from his nap, he finds that she's responded with an envelope of her own -- this one containing divorce papers. He breaks down and cries like a little bitch. Boo-hoo, my wife is leaving me. Boo-hoo, the love of my life is going away. Grow a pair, Seaver. You'd never catch Boner crying over a woman.

The next day, Cat is all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as she arrives at the medical equipment store to look over wheelchairs and beds for her mother. But to her surprise, it turns out that a chair and bed has already been bought and paid for and should be arriving at her parents' place the next day. She goes over to the hospital and thanks Dr. Lothario from the bottom of her heart for making such a nice gesture. Never mind that she didn't stick around long enough at the store to be told who bought the fucking things, she just figures it's got to be him, right? Right? You've seen movies before, you tell me.

Mike is busy cleaning up around the house and finds a Thank You card left on a table. It's from Dr. Lothario, and it's pretty much a lovey-dovey "I want to get to know you much, much better" type of note, and Mike puts two and two together. So off he goes to the hospital to give the good doctor a piece of his mind. He storms into Lothario's office and informs him that his pussy-hunting services will no longer be needed, as far as his wife is concerned. After he leaves, Dr. Lothario does the "I almost got my ass kicked" sigh of relief, reaches into his drawer and pulls out a wedding band, slipping it back onto his finger. Why, that cad!

Cat tries to chat up Dr. Lothario, but he pretty much brushes her off, now that Mike's called dibs on his property again. So she's eating lunch all by her lonesome until she's joined by an older nurse, and we find out where this lady is coming from when gives a silent prayer before eating. This nurse basically tells Cat in her nice old religious lady way that women who pursue married men are whores and should knock that shit off. Cat excuses herself from the table, because whore or not, who wants to hear that shit? Following that scene is a montage (MON-TAGE!) of Cat and Mike living their separate lives while still living under the same roof, all the while the Christian equivalent to those shitty songs you hear during a sad montage of a broken relationship in a romantic movie plays in the background.

After that montage, Mike notices that Cat hasn't gone to work. Instead, she's laid out in bed obviously sick with something. He asks her if she needs anything and she responds with "No, I'm okay. You can go" which is Woman for "Can't you read my mind? Yes, take care of me. I'm sick and need your help". He plays it cool though, he walks away, making her think that he's going to leave her alone to take care of herself. A while later though, he comes back with some medicine and chicken soup from muthafuckin' Chick-Fil-A, baby! Now, I've never tried the chicken soup from that place, but if it's as good as their chicken sandwiches and waffle fries, then that shit's gotta be deeeeeelicious. Anyway, she tells him that she found the Love Dare book and discovers that he's 3 days past the 40, meaning he's doing these kind acts for her because he wants to. They have a tearful chat, and she says that she's not ready to fully trust him and still needs some time to think about whether or not to go through with the divorce. And by now that fuckin' soup is cold. But I bet it still tastes really fuckin' good.

The next day, Cat goes back to the medical equipment store to buy some linens for her mom's bed. She comments on how it's the only thing Dr. Lothario didn't pay for in his generosity. The clerk informs Cat that of the $24,300 that was given to pay for the wheelchair and bed, only $300 came from Dr. Lothario. Which can only mean...

GASP! SURPRISE! (not really, otherwise no bell for you)

It was her husband who paid for it all! That's right, he used the savings he was going to use to buy his boat and blew it all on his wife's burden. Not only that, he did it two weeks ago, which would mean he did that even before she handed him the divorce papers. Don't I feel like the fucking asshole.

So Cat runs back home, puts her wedding ring back on and heads for the fire station, where she tearfully apologizes for being such a bitch and they both run up to each other to do the lovers-embraced-against-the-beautiful-sunset-while kissing thing. By the way, for that shot Kirk Cameron paid to have his wife flown to the set so they could put a wig on her and dress her like the actress who played Cat, that way he wouldn't have to kiss another woman. For reals.

We then dissolve to them standing in front of that old unburned Klan cross, which I take to mean that you can add one more to the "Converted" list along with Mike Seaver. Mike and Cat then go to visit his parents, and while the ladies are busy setting up dinner, Mike and his father take another walk for a chat. Mike thanks his father for writing that Love Dare book for him, and compliments the old man on his genius on keeping a relationship together. Mike's father then reveals to him that the Love Dare was all his mother's doing. She had done it to his father to save the marriage, and figuring Mike would dismiss it had it come from her, he rewrote it in his handwriting. Mike breaks down and cries, realizing what a complete fucking ass he has been to his mom. He then runs back to the house and tearfully apologizes to her for being such a douche.

Mike and Cat then renew their vows in front of that old Klan cross. We fade to black, we get Romans 5:8 printed up on the screen, followed by a website address: During the end credits, we're given the address again, followed by advertisements for Fireproof: The Novel, a guide called Fireproof Your Life, and a Love Dare book. Personally, I'm waiting for Fireproof: The Video Game. The credits end with "TO GOD BE THE GLORY!", and the address one last time. If you didn't get it by then, then I don't know what to do with you. The End.

This was pretty much a lame Lifetime movie with strong Christian themes in it. A lot of people (like my sister) dug this movie, and I'm guessing every fan and champion of this film all pray to the same God. I appreciate the message about keeping a marriage strong, keeping the home fires burning and all that, but the movie should make the message, not the other way around. This premise given to better filmmakers would make, uh, a better film. On a related note, water's wet and the sky is blue. But what do I know, I'm not married and this was made for married couples. Maybe if I was I'd get more out of this. This movie cost $500,000 and made over $30,000,000 so it's obviously working for someone.

This movie came out around the same time as Bill Maher's anti-religion documentary, Religulous and ended up making twice what Maher's movie made. If that's not some God-helping-out-Ned-Flanders shit for you, I don't know what is. I'm glad that shit happened to Maher, because as good and/or convincing that movie may be, I just can't stand the smug asshole who stars in it anymore. He was cool back in the day, but no more. Fuck that guy. Motherfucker used to be my homie, used to be my ace. Now I wanna slap the taste out your mouth. Nigga bow down to the row. Fuckin' me, now I'm fuckin' you, little ho. Oh, don't think I forgot. Let you slide. Let me ride. Just another homicide. Man, remember when rap was fuckin' good? It fuckin' sucks now. It could just be that I'm getting old and I don't get it anymore. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Fireproof. Here's a 60 second version of Fireproof. It's weird because it feels like the filmmakers took the piss out of their movie way more than originally intended, because joke footage or not, this is pretty much the movie: