The film immediately introduces watchers to a team of smokejumpers who are also known as elite group firefighters. The group consists of Captain Jake (John Cena), Mark (Keegan-Michael Key), Rodrigo (John Leguizamo) & a giant man who never speaks named Axe (Tyler Mane). We see first hand these men’s capabilities as firefighters when they attend an emergency located in the bush where many people are trapped. The men arrive on the scene like action heroes and save the day, winning the hearts of many citizens within their community.
But soon the team is called to another fire disaster. This time they receive a call about a cabin in the woods, which is burning with three children trapped inside. Thankfully the men are successful with their rescue, but now they assume the responsibility of three young kids until the parents are able to collect them. Jake and the team need to stand guard over the next twenty-four hours and make sure the three kids are safe and secure at headquarters.
Captain Jake and his team lay out the rules and guidelines as the children stay the night, but as one might expect, these children are a bigger handful than Jake and the team hoped for. The children enjoy getting up to no good and ignoring all rules. Can Jake and his fellow professional firefighters survive the night and control the new terror before it’s too late?
For those who are not aware, this film is a comedy which is aimed at families and young children. The jokes here are over the top, rely on slapstick humour, and the gags generally feel familiar. Playing With Fire reminds me of another movie which has a similar concept. Naturally, I’m talking about young Dennis The Menace. The children cause trouble, and most jokes come from seeing the reactions of our leading firefighters or seeing them be effected by what the children do.
Some jokes were able to land a laugh from me and some gags I found extremely painful to watch, even more when a lousy joke gets repeated over and over. One example of this is when John Leguizamo’s character quotes famous lines but continually gets them wrong. John Cena is undoubtedly giving the family comedy genre a robust effort, but most laughs for me came from the randomness of the actor Keegan-Michael Key. The romance and love interest played by Judy Greer was also a painful plot point to see and watching her on-screen with John Cena was never believable. Instead, her role felt rather silly and pointless.
Overall, Playing With Fire is an over the top film which is best suited for young ages or families with younger children seeking a fun movie to watch. For the most part, the actors are doing their best with the material, but some elements had no chance of working for me. Some of these include poor jokes which are repeated or an unnecessary romance which was painful to watch. If you are seeking something light and brainless, this is undoubtedly a film that will provide just that. Plus there are poop jokes, and everyone generally enjoys those too right?
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Review Written by Peter Walkden