Half-a-million dollars, Kirk Cameron, and the power of JesusÂ .What could go wrong?
Cameron is Caleb Holt, an Albany,Â Georgia fireman with anger management issues and a failing marriage. You see, heÂs selfish because heÂs saving money for a boat, pissed off because his wife never washes the dishes, and he canÂt fathom not being respected in his own home. After seven years of bliss, the relationship has turned sour, and instead of being the king of his castle, he has to deal with a working woman who talks back, complains, and wonÂt do his laundry while he sleeps off a grueling shift. Oh yeah, and heÂs addicted to porn, though no one has the courage to say the word. His wife Catherine (Erin Bethea, giving balsa wood a run for its money)Â simply dismisses it as Âtrash.Â Only the good stuff, dear.
Porn? Mike SeaverÂs into porn?
You damn right he is. His wife, a hospital P.R. director, is cold, distant, and robotic, so heÂs gone elsewhere to bust his nut. He tries to be sly, but she knows the score: ÂDid you remember to hit Âclear historyÂ so I wonÂt know where youÂve been?Â Such sass when he didnÂt even have his cock out at the time. In fact, for theÂ lone sceneÂ we watch him feed his addiction, he could be on eBay for all the uncontrolledÂ apathy he displays. But Catherine is tired of competing with the internet fantasies. Based on her inability to project any human emotion whatsoever, we can rightfully gather that for her, ÂcompetingÂ means anything involving a naughty part. Or effort. But we get the idea: porn is evil, brought to AmericaÂs shores by liberals and/or the devil, and it will only tear marriages apart. Sharing porn? Watching it together for mutual satisfaction? This implies that Christians donÂt dismiss the female orgasm in the same breath as Bigfoot, evolution, and the Enlightenment. But don’t be alarmed: Caleb eventually smashes his computer to bits with a baseball bat. To show he’s not a slave to anger.
So the Holts are troubledÂ .I assume they seek counseling?
As psychiatry is SatanÂs work and secular tomes lessons in perversion, Catherine does the womanly thing and seeks comfort in the arms of a sweet doctor. She even tosses her ring in the drawer to hide her shame. Caleb is about to give up himself (she won’t drink his coffee!) until his father, a man IÂm still convinced is Larry Craig, mentions ÂThe Love Dare.Â For the uninitiated, this ÂdareÂ is a 40-day program of tidbits and life lessons to help fire up the love. It starts out simple: refrain from negative comments, throw a compliment her way, even do something kind and unexpected. And then it gets really hard. At some point, youÂll be asked to make a candlelight dinner, or maybe even get to know her all over again. Forty days, though, and no sign of anal. The tasks are trite and obvious, but as this is a Kirk Cameron enterprise, we know damn well that GodÂs going to enter the picture sooner or later. So in addition to doing things you should have done all along — like not striking her for leaving you with wrinkled slacks — you must read each and every Bible verse at the bottom of the dayÂs mission.
So being kind and respectful isnÂt enough to save a marriage?
Not a chance. Turn to God,Â or you can kiss love itself goodbye. In a nutshell, if you donÂt have Jesus, human relationships at every level are utterly impossible. Maybe even dangerous. And just because you clear your bank account of $23,000 to buy your mind-raped mother-in-law a state of the art wheelchair instead of that boat youÂve been saving years for, you canÂt winÂ your wifeÂ back unless you bow before a massive wooden cross in some park. And you have to re-visit that cross again and again until you get it. Dear old dad finally gets through to Caleb concerning ChristÂs abiding love, but only after a series of lectures that take a good 45 minutes of screen time. My god, the coot goes on and on and on and doesn’t even have the courtesy to die at the end. Thankfully, though,Â dear mom-in-lawÂ does not recover from her stroke.
CalebÂs a fireman, thoughÂ Any wacky scenes at the firehouse?
And how. One time, to teach the braggart a lesson, Caleb pulls out two bottles of ÂWrath of GodÂ hot sauce to see who can downÂ one in less time. But wouldnÂt you know it, CalebÂs gone and put tomato juice in his, so itÂs much easier to drink. The hotshotÂs mouth explodes, and his vanity is vanquished. I think thereÂs something comparable in Acts, maybe Deuteronomy. ThereÂs also plenty of action beyond the station, as these rugged hunks go on calls and save lives. If youÂre into adventure, thereÂs a fire and a car accident to keep you glued to your seat. Even there, though, is a life lesson: driving fast will kill you. Not maybe, not if, and not possibly. You will fucking die. Always. ThereÂs nothing so satisfying as the Christian worldview of irrational absolutes.
So this Gavin fella, the doctor Catherine flirts with while considering divorce, whatÂs his role in all this?
I have to believe that heÂs the stand-in for Satan. HeÂs a cad, see, because he keeps having lunch with Catherine and making her laugh. Though not once leaving the hospital, itÂs assumed that the temptation may be too much for Catherine, and once she betrays her vows, thereÂs no going back. No forgiveness; hellfire awaits. Gavin is also married, and he proves it when, after Caleb storms in to tell him heÂll be fighting for his wife, he pulls his ring from a drawer and fondles it with sorrow and guilt. So itÂs not about actual deeds, then, but simple intent. Or something more dramatic: a married man may not speak to another woman unless to convey information, and a married woman is, well, always a potential whore. You just canÂt trust them. Until they find Jesus.
You mean Catherine also comes to the Lord?
After many, many tears, she relents and asks to accompany Caleb to the cross in the park. Within minutes, they are renewing their vows before a packed house. And God. Again, the film believes that marriages without ChristÂs endorsement are unholy and sick. Doomed to die on the vine of madness and betrayal. CatherineÂs road is harder, of course, because she actually hated her spouse, whereas Caleb was just a little miffed at not receiving a hot meal after a hard day. Though unspoken, the rift may be due in part to the lack of wee ones running about. ItÂs jaw-dropping that the coupleÂs barren home was never mentioned, but youÂd better believe that itÂs CatherineÂs fault. I suspect a trio of abortions after she decided she wanted a career. The harlot.
As a Christian film, I can only assume racial stereotypes are avoided?
Not so fast. This is Georgia, so it wouldnÂt have made sense to have blacks excluded entirely. We see them at the firehouse, at the hospital, and even in the street. Sure, theyÂre either cracking jokes or spreading gossip, but at least they have dialogue. None of those movies funded by the Mormon Church can say that.
Okay, so cars kill, porn kills, and wheelchairs now cost the same as a damn fine automobile. Anything left to believe in?
When youÂre sick and tired and a little feverish, only Chick-fil-A will bring you back. Yep, the one and only product placement is the restaurant chain that is open every day but Sunday. Because strangling chickens on the LordÂs day just wouldnÂt sit right with the Heavenly Father. Ownership aside, they do make a mean waffle fry.
So shitty acting, over length, and appalling message aside, will you be trying ÂThe Love DareÂ?
Stay tuned. The book has been purchased, and the wife and I are giving it a go. As Day One involves keeping negative comments at bay, I imagine it will be a short experiment, but weÂve got a marriage to save. Or at least hand over to Jesus.