Review: Playing with Fire (2019)

playing with fire headeradam review

Playing with Fire.

We follow ‘smoke jumper’ Jake Carson (John Cena), a Northern California firefighter known for dropping right into intense wildfires. He’s joined by John Leguizamo, Keegan-Michael Key, and the silent Axe, played by Tyler Mane (best known as Sabretooth in X-Men). They drop into a burning home and rescue three children, who they then have to take care of for a few days (played by Finley Rose Slater, Christian Convery, and Brianna Hildebrand, who played Negasonic Teenage Warhead in Deadpool).

We also have a potential love interest (Judy Greer) and a firefighter that Cena’s character idolizes and seeks to replace someday (Dennis Haybert, 24 and those Allstate commercials).

What works?

Regardless what you think of the film, these guys committed to it. Sometimes you can tell when people phone it in, but they’re really giving it their all. The comedy is mostly carried by Keegan Michael-Key, who did manage to make me laugh. Comedic attempts were made by John Leguizamo and Tyler Mane, but I’d argue they didn’t succeed nearly as well as Key.

I also think the second half of this film worked much more than the first half. The first half is painful, full of jokes that landed flat and an extreme over-reliance on poop jokes. The second half actually had me tearing up a bit, as the movie actually had a bit of heart. It’s still not good but it did redeem the film quite a bit.

playing with fire 2

What didn’t work?

Okay, most of you reading this are either contemplating seeing this alone or you might be a parent, and you’d bring a child (or two) with you. Unfortunately, this movie doesn’t really work for either. This movie is extremely frustrating to watch, as the jokes fall flat repeatedly. You can tell it’s intended for children, as becomes apparent when the Nickelodeon Productions icon flashes across the screen. But it’s not really suitable for parents with kids either… It doesn’t appeal at all to grown folks, so you’ll find yourself extremely annoyed. And if you’re trying to choose movies that can teach your kids something, this will only teach them to steal, mess around, break things, and overall be disobedient, and in the film this disobedience always results in laughter.

When a movie is supposed to be a comedy and nearly every joke results in a quiet theater full of people, that’s not a good sign. The hijinks are cliche, the potty humor is old news, and overall this movie does nothing to warrant a recommendation. Its few heartfelt moments in the climax saved this from a terrible rating.

playing with fire 1


Whether you’re going to see this with or without kids, this is a flop. The humor is painful, save for a few bright spots by Keegan Michael-Key. It’s predictable and cliche, including some predictable heartfelt moments in the climax that almost brought me to tears (which is an easy feat for films, so it doesn’t sway the rating that much). This movie isn’t really for anyone and that’s a bummer.



About adamryen

Entertainment. Gaming. Dreaming.
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