Movie Review: “Playing with Fire” is just a smokey mess

A new twist on the hard edged professional turned loving father-figure story, “Playing with Fire” starring John Cena, misfires on almost every level, failing to provide any laughs and forcing it’s paying audience to sit through an unfunny film that grinds down on almost every aspect of it’s poorly written story into an hour and a half of nonsense.

When “Smoke Jumper” Jake Carson and his quirky group of subordinates save three kids from a cabin fire, they’re turned into caretakers for the children until someone shows up to take them off their hands. This leads to some antics caused by these crazy kids and a plot that you could probably figure out just by looking at the film’s marketing.

It’s just so awful. There is a child protective services character in this film. I was rooting for them.

The jokes miss with the movie’s laughs going all in on on poop and puke jokes, with some slapstick slips and falls thrown in just to make sure we’re really frustrated. None of it works.

Here is the thing. We know this cast can be funny. We’ve got the great Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo, and Judy Greer, in supporting roles and bless them all, you can physically see them doing their absolute best to make this stuff funny and sadly failing.

I suppose if I had to pick something out of this mess to praise, it’s that it’s not a bad looking film. Director Andy Fickman gives us a look that could have facilitated a funnier story better but it’s all pulled underwater by the unfunniness of the material. And there is some cheesy violin music thrown in for good measure to make sure any hope of saving “Playing with Fire” is quickly extinguished.

I wanted this film to be over. It’s one of the worst I’ve seen this year. If you want a family friendly John Cena movie then go watch “Bumblebee” again.

Do yourself a favor and don’t go “Playing with Fire”.

Playing with Fire


Running time: 1hr 35 minutes

Rated: PG

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