Remember in high school (or maybe for some college) when we were assigned the task of writing a comparison or a contrast paper about works of literature or an article. Well today, in the span of a few hours I saw two movies with the theme of marriage and divorce. Two movies. One had me weeping, the other made me want to vomit. I’ll explain why later.
Here is the trailer for Nights in Rodanthe a movie based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks (Who is… One of my favorite secular authors, though the light is fading — I have not read one of his books in years, and remember NOT reading this one because the subject matter troubled me.) The movie is out on the WB name and stars Richard Gere and Diane Lane – actors and actresses I typically enjoy seeing in film.
The second movie is a low budget, inspirational film called Fireproof based on a screenplay that is now a book written by the Kendrick Brothers of Sherwood Baptist Church in Georgia. These are the same brothers who wrote, produced, directed and distributed Flywheel and Facing the Giants AND their cast and crew are largely made up of volunteers. To tell you my favorite part of these movies is the CREDITS!
Did I say Credits?
Yes, I said “CREDITS!”
The credits include a host of Sherwood and Georgia’s elite volunteer cast and crew members. I love watching all the names roll by. There are those who provided food… Name after name of individuals and families, Sunday school classes and churches, grocery stores.. (In “Facing the Giants” Piggly Wiggly* was recognized!) But, when all the credits have rolled and the names of everyone who contributed to the movie have been acknowledged the screen goes completely black as these words rise upon the screen: “TO GOD BE THE GLORY.”
So… I. LOVE. THE. CREDITS. Did I say that already? Oh yeah. Well I do.
So here is the trailer for the movie Fireproof:
So, by comparison which movie was better? The million dollar blockbuster… glitzy, romantically set “Nights in Rodanthe” set off the coasts of North Carolina at a beach front Bed and Breakfast in the middle of a hurricane based on a best selling author’s book. OR the low budget, relative new comer to the movie magic scene Sherwood Pictures’ “Fireproof.”
Well, by comparison… Hands down I would give Nights in Rodanthe a paltry two stars with a star and a half being given for the stars in the film and the author of the novel. The rest is the substance of the movie… 1/2 star.
On the other hand, Fireproof gets FIVE. STARS. FIVE. I am going to tell you the movie had everything, romance, a thrilling auto accident scene where it is life and death, man versus machine… And I won’t spoil it but the trailer gives clues… It is intense. Kirk Cameron has really grown up from his “Growing Pains” starts and is remarkably believable in the role of Caleb Holt. That cocky “Mike Seaver” attitude shows just a little in his swagger and style at the beginning but at some point it seems this movie moves from acting to reality as the characters develop and the storyline captures your heart.
Fireproof has humor, a hilarious one upmanship scene at the firehouse makes you laugh and laugh and Caleb Holt redefines the game, “Kick the Can.”
But, the heart of Fireproof is what makes it so beautiful. The heart of the movie is a failing marriage, a wounded wife and a clueless husband… enter the LOVE DARE. Yes, the LOVE DARE. A tool, which is a personally written journal that Caleb’s father gives him when he admits his marriage is headed for the local family court. Through this personal journal that is actually a 40 day challenge to demonstrate the unconditional quality of true love as described in 1 Corinthians 13, Caleb learns not only to love his wife with a new heart and saves his marriage, but he also learns to trust God and accepts Jesus as His Lord and Savior. That scene was simply beautiful.
Caleb’s wife, Catherine, grew up a firefighter’s daughter and longed to marry someone just like Daddy. A hero. But, her husband turned out to be a hero to everyone but her. She is aching for attention and absolutely washed up done with her husband when the movie begins. In an intensely emotional scene, Caleb and Catherine have it out and she says, “I want out.”
The rest of the movie is a dance… much like the tango where he woos her and she resists. Until a smashing ending that makes you long for this kind of movie ending every single time. The movie is superbly acted with Kirk Cameron being the only professional actor in the bunch. He is greatly upstaged by Catherine’s portrayer and the man who plays his father along with his firefighter friends who gag and gaffaw through the entire movie. There are some heavy scenes related to the job of a firefighter and the entire time you forget you are watching a ministry project from a church in Georgia. The better filmography may be due, in part, to the professional filming crew tht was hired for this project, but HEY! It makes it work. It is filmed entirely on location in Albany, Georgia and a few familiar faces from Flywheel and Facing the Giants turn up in this very tasteful, message film with a meaning and a song. God’s song for marriage. I won’t spoil the end because I want you to see it. But, this beautifully written, well played movie is in theaters across the country. It opened with the #1 rating on Fandango in pre-sales and in the #2 spot last Friday night (9/26/2008) in total sales. It finished the weekend out at #4 in box office sales for the entire opening weekend up against Shai Lebouf in Eagle Eye. $6.2 million in the first weekend, compared to $10 million that it’s predecessor Facing the Giants grossed in Sherwood’s National Debut. I would pay to see it again.
By the way, the Love Dare (written by the Kendrick Brothers) has been published by Broadman Holman and is avaiable at Lifeway and through the Fireproof website.
As for Nights in Rodanthe, my daughters picked it for our movie night. Both were bored and found the movie dragging along like I was. I was disappointed to be honest. The movie and storyline were self serving and gratuitous at best. This is supposed to be a love story to end all love stories, but it just didn’t work for me. Set in the town of Rodanthe, NC at a B&B as previously mentioned. It is the story of a woman who is helping out her friend for the weekend while her kids travel to Orlando with their father, who is estranged from the family due to an affair he had.
Admittedly, any reserve the woman, Adrienne, had might be justified with regard to her philandering husband, but after watching Fireproof, I’m not rooting for the mysterious troubled stranger, Dr. Flanner, who comes to town – I’m rooting for Jack, her husband.
But, when Jack comes to pick up the kids for the Orlando trip, he tells his wife he’s made a mistake and he wants to come home. He realizes what he’s lost and he wants another chance. She should come to Orlando with them so they can be a family. She refuses, siting her committment to help her friend for the weekend. So, she spends the weekend catering the lone hotel guest at the B&B. She cooks him meals, chats with him over a bottle of wine after dinner… She later introduces him to the paintings of her friend, Jean, whose grandmother came to America as black woman in post slavery society. The paintings in the B&B attic are of “spirit gods” the black woman’s ancestors worshipped.
We do learn that the mysterious Paul is actually a doctor who lost a patient on the operating table and has come to make peace with the family who live in Rodanthe. He is divorced and homeless, heading for Equador to reconcile himself to his estranged son who runs a clinic there. James Franco plays Dr. Paul’s son.
So for four lo-o-ong days which involves both of them having a fit of anger over things not going as they planned… involving drinking and adultery during the hurricane and her going from considering reconciling with her husband to waiting for this stranger she spent four days with to return from Equador. The scene of her making the choice to end her marriage and sharing that with her children was not only painful – it made me not like Adrienne much. Maybe that is because I saw a bit of the old me in her. Saying “I have to do this for me. My kids may hurt but they will get over it, I deserve to be happy.”
Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that an affair is not grievous and worthy of ending a marriage. But, when there is repentance and there is an offer to reconcile – especially in cases where children are involved – I am of the mindset that the only answer is to try to make it work before jumping in bed with the first man who comes to town with knowing eyes and a whimsical smile. Come on, It’s Richard Gere. This movie could have ended sooner. It was just too painful for me to watch as I cried out in my head, “You don’t know what you are doing to your kids. “
God has a plan for marriage and families! He has a glorious plan and that is whyI will see Fireproof again before its run in theaters is over and I will not be recommending Nights in Rodanthe to anyone this fall.