Saving a life can grant the greatest feeling, but what happens when you’re stuck with the people you rescued? What if they’re kids!? It may not sound like a bad idea but for a group of firefighters, it’s can be quite the complication. Playing With Fire is a comedy that works on this idea and the results are quite a treat. It isn’t great, but overall the experience brought some smiles and quite a bit of laughs.
Superintendent Jake Carson (John Cena) is a rough, tough firefighter who takes his job a bit too seriously. While not an actual firefighter, he and his team are smokejumpers. Their job is to jump into a fire in a forest and rescue anyone trapped by the raging inferno. They do their job well, though most of the time they spend their days at their station by themselves. One day a call is received to investigate a fire. A cabin is ablaze and while searching for trapped survivors, Jake discovers three kids inside. They are rescued and taken to safety. It turns out their parents are out of town, so the Safe Haven Law grants allows law enforcement permission to take care of the kids until their guardians arrive. It should be noted that, while the Safe Haven Law is real, it isn’t represented correctly.
We have Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand), Will (Christian Convery) and little Zoey (Finley Rose Slater) are the youths that have been rescued and are now staying with the smokejumpers. Unfortunately these guys are located in the middle of the forest, away from civilization and have no clues about kids. As you can imagine, the result is typical of a slapstick comedy like this. The kids act goofy, they drive the adults nuts, characters fall down and havoc ensues.
This is a Nickelodeon-produced film so most of humor is geared towards younger audiences. The script itself, I think, could’ve used some better jokes but overall I didn’t have any complaints. I really enjoyed Keegan-Michael Key’s performance, as he always makes me laugh, while John Leguizamo seemed a bit over-the-top at times. Tyler Mane plays Axe, a tall, brooding man who always carries and axe in his hand but takes a liking to tea time with little Zoey.
As I said before, this comedy is for younger audiences. There were some adults in the theater and they did laugh too but not as much as the kids I suspect. The story is quite simple in seeing the firefighters deal with three rambunctious kids but there are some real sweet moments, especially when they encourage Jake to ask this scientist friend named Amy (Judy Hicks) out on a date. This isn’t a movie for everyone, but it does have an audience in younger viewers and that’s how you should approach it if you’re thinking of seeing this movie.
Score 2.5 out of 5
I won’t say that I didn’t enjoy this movie, I did have some fun. There were plenty of laughs, although I felt that the script could’ve used a better writer. Nevertheless, Playing With Fire is a movie that kids will enjoy but I don’t think it’s worth the price of a theater ticket. That’s not to say you should pass it over when it becomes available on streaming services or DVD, as it’s a fun romp for the kids and could make for a weekend family movie night. Playing With Fire doesn’t have to be a total blast, but for what it is, I walked out of the theater with a little smile across my face.