Playing with Fire (2019)

Playing with Fire (2019) Cover

Playing with Fire should have been called Playing with Stupidity because this movie is literally stupid physical harm and poop jokes (there is literally a poop joke).

John Cena plays Jake Carson, the leader of a group of smokejumpers, who all one day become involved with a group of disrespectful children after rescuing them from a fire. They are tasked with babysitting the relentless troublesome children as the parents are out of town, unable to get their kids. To make matters worse, Carson is going to soon be evaluated for a position he has been coveting. Hopefully he and his team can get the kids to behave or get the parents to pick these brats up before the evaluation!

Playing with Fire can be compared to a Saturday morning Looney Toons cartoon show; it’s silly, makes no sense, but it is well aware that it isn’t trying to do anything phenomenal. It could be said that Playing with Fire is an acceptable family friendly film and that is true if you’re not looking for anything clever outside of property getting destroyed and adults getting flustered by children. This is a movie you can watch, turn your brain off, not have to think about anything, and watch over-the-top madness unfold. However, Playing with Fire is one of the most uncreative films, relying on the most obvious jokes that are repeatedly used in a mostly single location. John Cena is constantly reminding the kids that he to be called, “Superintendent Jake Carson” and from ruining a car, to getting mad at a constant screaming child, very little of this movie is memorable and far from outstanding. At best it’s a safe film for young children to watch.

The story mostly takes place at Carson’s fire depot, which was such a bland environment. At the end of the film we learn that John Cena’s character actually has a home, where the kids say aloud (and I thought), “You do?!” It seems very challenging to keep the film in one primarily location as there’s only so much one can do in a single space. Outside of putting out fire at the beginning of the film, a store, and Cena’s house, I felt trapped inside of this Fire Depot.

Heartstrings are far from being pulled on but the film has the audacity to try to take itself seriously in the third act and it unsuccessfully has some boring mooshy past conflicts arise to try to make you sympathize with its characters. Luckily, the film is only an hour and thirty six minutes and so this all flies by too quickly. My criticism is, “If you have already committed to being this absurd for more than half the film, why try to get an ‘aww’ reaction from the audience?” Instead it should’ve embraced its silly tone and gone entirely off the deep end.

If you are content with bottom of the barrel extremely surface level humor then this may amuse you. In fact, my parents loved this movie and thought that the character’s silliness was admirable; while my critic friend said this was possibly the worst movie she had seen this year. Ultimately, the movie will evoke different reactions based on what humor people find amusing. While I didn’t hate this film, I felt like this was beyond mediocre with its effort to do anything remarkable.

Final Verdict:One of the most uncreative films, relying on the most obvious jokes that are repeatedly used in a mostly single location.