Playing with Fire Review

Playing with Fire movie posterSynopsis
Jake Carson (John Cena) and his crew are an elite squad of smoke jumpers but when they rescue Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand) and her two siblings, they realize fighting fires might be easier than taking care of three children.

When going into Playing with Fire, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Family comedies can be hit or miss for older audience members. However, I was intrigued given it starred Keegan-Michael Key, one of my favorite comedic actors at the moment, so I was willing to check it out. In the end, I found it to be a lot of fun.

One good thing about this film is no matter your age, there are plenty of laughs to be had. For me, Key steals the movie with his performance. As I’ve said before, I am a huge fan of his skit show, Key and Peele, and he channels much of that same energy into his performance in this film. He also had great chemistry with everyone around him, particularly John Cena, which only makes him even better. Speaking of Cena, his performance as the buff leader was entertaining but many of his jokes or gags fell short for me. I haven’t seen many of his other comedic roles but based on his performance here I felt he was eclipsed by some of the other actors. Besides Key and Cena, the rest of the cast also each had their moments, generating a fair number of laughs throughout the film.

As for the story, it was fairly predictable. It treads similar ground of movies like Vin Diesel’s The Pacifier, where the premise is taking muscular men and putting them in charge of or taking care of young children, clearly being out of their element. Playing with Fire also incorporates gags seen in many other films before, such as one character being silent for most of the film then shocks everybody when they finally open their mouth or the tough guy not getting the hint the girl likes him. So don’t expect any new ground to be covered.

Despite the unoriginal story, this movie has a big heart. What Cena lacks in the comedy, he makes up for with warmth and genuineness. His moments with Judy Greer, and Brianna Hildebrand in particular, form the emotional backbone of the film. Cena’s Jake Carson also isn’t just a pretty face. He receives a lot of development that is well explored for a 90-minute family comedy.

I thought Playing with Fire was GOOD πŸ™‚ While it’s not entirely original and fairly predictable, this movie doesn’t try to take itself seriously and the cast’s dynamic makes it fun and entertaining. If you go in with an open mind and don’t take the film too seriously, like the actors, you might find something about it to enjoy.


Cast & Crew
Andy Fickman – Director
Dan Ewen – Writer
Matt Lieberman – Writer
Nathan Wang – Composer

John Cena – Jake ‘Supe’ Carson
Keegan-Michael Key – Mark
John Leguizamo – Rodrigo
Tyler Mane – Axe
Judy Greer – Dr. Amy Hicks
Brianna Hildebrand – Brynn
Christian Convery – Will
Finley Rose Slater – Zoey
Dennis Haysbert – Commander Richards

Lightning Review: Keanu

Keanu movie posterSynopsis
After Rell (Jordan Peele) goes through a rough breakup, he finds a kitten outside his door and names him Keanu. One night, he comes home to find his home burglarized and Keanu kidnapped. Together with his cousin, Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key), they go to get Keanu back from the Seventeenth Street Blips gang.

I am a huge fan of the show Key & Peele. I have seen every episode of seasons one through three multiple times each and most of seasons four and five. To say I was excited for a full length movie starring the show’s two leading men, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, is an understatement. You might say that I had high expectations for Keanu but thankfully it was able to live up to those expectations. The reason their show is so great is because of the chemistry Key and Peele have. Sure, the sketches are pretty funny but it wouldn’t matter if the two leads didn’t work well together. Watching Keanu was like watching an extended Key & Peele sketch. Their charm, wit, and comedic timing translate well from five minute skits to a ninety minute feature. It felt like Keanu was written similar to one of the show’s sketches where it was focused on the two main characters. There aren’t any extra subplots, there aren’t any extra scenes, there isn’t anything to detract from Rell’s (Peele) and Clarence’s (Key) story to get their kitten back. It concentrated on exactly what the audience wanted to see. And of course there was a cameo from Keanu Reeves, or at least his voice anyway. How fitting!

I thought Keanu was GREAT :-D. It is just as absurd and entertaining as anything Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have done together before. If you are a fan of their show, or them in general, you’re going to have a great time with this film.


Cast & Crew
Peter Atencio – Director
Jordan Peele – Writer
Alex Rubens – Writer
Steve Jablonsky – Composer
Nathan Whitehead – Composer

Jordan Peele – Rell Williams / Oil Dresden
Keegan-Michale Key – Clarence Goobril / Smoke Dresden
Tiffany Haddish – Hi-C
Method Man – Cheddar
Darrel Britt-Gibson – Trunk
Jason Mitchell – Bud
Jamar Malachi Neighbors – Stitches
Will Forte – Hulka
Nia Long – Hannah
Rob Huebel – Spencer
Luis Guzman – Bacon