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 🙂 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