Playing with Fire (2019) A Review

The trailer made this film look a lot worse than it actually was.  I mean it wasn’t great, but it did have it’s moments.


DIRECTOR:  Andy Fickman

STARRING:  John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo

SCREENPLAY:  Dan Ewen, Matt Lieberman

GENRE:  Comedy, Family

RUNTIME:  96 Minutes

★★ 2.5 Stars 

Lets start right of the bat, by saying that never will any film where John Cena is the lead focus, going to really be anything to write home about.  He is purely an entertainer, not necessarily a ground breaking actor.  By that I mean that whatever he is in will be a great time wasting form of entertainment, but an hour or o later, nothing about it will really of stuck with you.  Now will be a great time to tell me if you know of any John Cena performance that defies this role.  

Superintendent Jake Carson (Supe) and his elite team of smoke jumpers become responsible for a trio of children after they rescue them from a burning cabin.  The usual highjinks occur and the rigid, uncompromising Supe finds his well-ordered life turned upside down in the best possible way.

This movie is a super slow starter.  The first half takes a while to get going.  It is mostly John Cena yelling orders at basically everyone and the kids doing anything and everything to get under his feet.  It does produce a few comedic moments.  But as most of the characters are reduced to stereotypes we have seen in a thousand and one kids films over the years, nothing in the first hour of this film will really be surprise for you.

The best part of the film in my opinion was in the last half an hour or so, After John Cena’s character starts to break down a little and have a bit more of a personality.  The touching scenes between him and young actress Brianna Hildebrand are really well acted, and hint that John Cena would actually have a wider acting range if he could ever actually get out of comedy or kids films. 

The general plot of the film is kind of predictable.  From the moment they start talking about their parents, you know that there is something that they aren’t telling you. And while the being reveal does lead to a touching scene and a lovely (though predictable) ending, there is no way in the real world, that the events of this film would actually be allowed to happen.  

As a kids film, the comedy is pretty rudimentary.  A lot of toilet humour and the background characters are given almost child like characteristics to appeal to the target audience.  But I was in a screen with quite a lot of younger kids and they seemed to be eating up every second, and a few of the adults were as well.  So there may not have been a lot here to appeal to me, it looked to me like the intended audience loved it. 

So not as silly as the trailer made it out to be, to me the best part of the film was left out of the trailer completely.  I would recommend for parents with younger kids, for an enjoyable afternoon out.

Playing with fire is out in UK cinemas now.

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