Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gypsy Scholar Meets Fireproof Actor Ken Bevel

Actor in Fireproof
(Image from IMDb)

I had one of my occasional brushes with celebrity yesterday, this time in my Bible study class. Ken Bevel, one of the leading characters in the recent movie Fireproof, attended our men's 9:45 class and was invited to lead the discussion. Given who he is -- or whom, in light of this moderately successful movie, he has become -- he spoke to us about marriage and the importance of loving one's wife. He specifically cited Ephesians 5:25, which reads, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it," and emphasized the importance of having an unconditional, sacrificial love for one's wife (which is not easy, of course, not even with a wife as perfect as mine).

I haven't seen the film Fireproof, which was conceived as a Christian movie about marriage but which turned out to be a crossover success -- not a blockbuster, but it made a good profit on a low budget.

Peter T. Chattaway, reviewing the movie for Christianity Today, gave it three stars out of four and praised it because the script, by director Alex Kendrick and his brother Stephen, doesn't try to drop "miracles and messages from God on their characters, . . . [but keeps] the story focused on the [couple with marital problems] . . . and driven by the choices that . . . [they] make." Consequently, unlike in some of the Kendricks' previous films, "it no longer feels like the filmmakers are 'cheating'" in the plot. But this "is not to say that the script is free of problems," for the "first half-hour or so feels uneven, like the filmmakers were trying to find the right tone, or weren't quite sure how to set up the story."

Most secular reviewers were more critical of the film's 'preachiness', but the movie did cross over to reach a non-Christian audience, so its didacticism might have been exaggerated by those critics. Not having seen the film, I don't know. I can say that most Christian films that I've seen have been really, really bad. One of the few exceptions is Tender Mercies . . . if that's actually a 'Christian' film (but it was excellent).

As for Ken Bevel, although he doesn't play the main character (played by Kirk Cameron), he apparently has a strong role and seems to have struck a chord with viewers. He's good-looking, with an athletic build, and he's quite personable and humble as a man. He also speaks well, with intelligent insights, so he's not just a handsome face. In fact, he's not a professional actor at all and had never acted before being asked to try out for a role in this film. He's simply a member of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, which has a film production company, Sherwood Pictures.

In real life, Bevel is a Captain in the US Marine Corps working as a logistics officer, and he's briefly here in Korea participating in the military exercise "Foal Eagle," which is conducted annually as a defensive exercise by the combined US and Korean forces to help them maintain their ability to stop an invading army.

Since the movie came out, Bevel has encountered the challenges that come with celebrity. One of these is rather ironic, given the focus of the film. Any time that he goes out to eat in a restaurant, people will recognize him and come up to introduce themselves and praise the movie. The challenge comes because he is often approached by beautiful women who want to hug him . . . which doesn't go over especially well with his wife, I suspect.

We asked him what he does when approached that way. "I have a special, 'non-body' hug," he said. "I hug like this." He showed by 'hugging' the fellow next to him. It was nothing more than an arm draped about the other person's shoulder along with a firm but brief, friendly squeeze.

I jokingly remarked that I'll need to perfect this 'hug' to deal with all of the women who find my Gypsy Scholar persona so magnetic.

You can read more about Fireproof at Wikipedia (spoiler warning), or you can visit the official site to see a preview and also read an interview with Bevel.

UPDATE: Be aware that some comments describe the plot, so skip them if you intend to see this film.

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At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gay & I saw the movie at the Bakersfield, MO Baptist church we attend on sunday nights.
Essentially the story was about a couple having marital problems, basically over finances. The man was wrapped up in his firefighting work, and saving money for a dream motor boat. His wife also worked, but felt he was selfish, self centered, not willing to communicate, and no time for her needs.
They separated, then he realized what he was losing, and started trying to win her back with a 40 day program (which is connected with a book available in Bible book stores).
She didn't trust his advances, and the remainder of the movie goes through their trials, before a final reconciliation.
During that time, the man realized he needed the Lord in his life.
At the end, she realized the same thing.
That is the essential plot.
I thought it was a well thought film. The acting was pretty well done, and the plot was essentially planned adequately.
There was a clear message from a Christian standpoint for the need for married couples to be aware of each other's need, and the ability to communicate. Also for the need of having God and Jesus Christ in one's life.


At 10:26 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks Uncle Cran. Now, I need to caution people about a plot spoiler in the comments . . . though I suppose that this sort of movie plot is rather predictable anyway.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:40 PM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...

We saw the movie about a month ago. I wasn't expecting much, but it was really very well done. Cameron's performance was phenomenal, in my opinion.

It's great this film has done well. I'm sensing a trend lately in the entertainment industry that good, wholesome messages based on God's Word are beginning to gain popularity among movie-producers and musicians. Though I have been leary in the past of the "Christian Rock" phenomenon, I've recently began to actually listen to the music my kids are listening to and am finding the quality of talent very high, the creativity amazing, and the messages refreshing.

Unlike the GOP which cannot seem to grasp the opportunities offered by new mediums, young Christians are catching on and catching on quick.

I think its great! I also believe we'll see good, wholesome entertainment gain ground on the trash that's been pumped into the industry fro the past several decades.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Daddio, I think that the toughest film for Christian filmmakers will be in presenting tragic stories of faith.

The marriage might have failed anyway, for example, despite attempts to save it. Such stories are less inspiring -- to say the least -- but they're the tragic ones that we often have to deal with.

But I prefer happy endings.

Jeffery Hodges

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