John Cena blazes across the screen in the recently released movie Playing With Fire, which opened in theaters November 8th. While it has moments that are both hilarious and heartwarming, I still question whether or not he movie is “hot” enough to keep the audience entertained.
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Playing With Fire ~ Too Hot or Destined To Burn Out?
I hate writing a bad review. It’s just not something I enjoy doing. However, I have vowed to be honest and authentic, which means that I have to share the good with the bad and this is going to be one of those instances. Now, I can find some good things about the movie and I’ll be sure to highlight those points, but my overall feeling about this flick may not be what you want to hear.
What Is Playing With Fire About?
When straight-laced fire superintendent Jake Carson (played by John Cena) and his elite team of expert firefighters (played by Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo and Tyler Mane) come to the rescue of three siblings (Brianna Hildebrand, Christian Convery and Finley Rose Slater) in the path of an encroaching wildfire, they quickly realize that no amount of training could prepare them for their most challenging job yet – babysitters. Unable to locate the children’s parents, the firefighters have their lives, jobs and even their fire depot turned upside down and quickly learn that kids – much like fires -are wild and unpredictable.
What I liked About Playing With Fire
The movie truly does have a good message. You have a man who has focused solely on succeeding at his job and finds himself at a pivotal crossroad in life. However, as with almost any moment like this, circumstances arise that challenge him and he is ultimately faced with life-changing decisions. In the process of making those decisions, he discovers that his heart is bigger than he expected. He actually does have room for more than just fighting fires.
The movie talks about looking out for each other, building relationships and trust. These are obviously core values within any firefighter community. We just get to see those core values expand a little and take on a life outside the firehouse.
All in all and when taken in context, it’s a fairly decent film when you look at it as a whole. While there are a few moments I will explain below that kind of made me cringe (which may very well take away it’s “decent” rating for some), I honestly don’t think I heard any profane language. When it comes to skin, the extent we saw was limited to John Cena going shirtless.
While I confess I felt the acting was mediocre at best, I did enjoy the connection the actors had with each other within the story. Most notably, the relationship between the youngest actor (Finley Rose Slater) and the dog was adorable and will ultimately put a smile on your face. In my honest opinion, however, the movie goes to Keegan Michael-Key and John Leguizamo. They stole the show as they both successfully delivered their comedic lines with ease. They were actually the ones who made me laugh the most.
What I Didn’t Like About Playing With Fire
Okay – here we go. Sadly, I don’t believe I’m alone in my opinion either.
I’ll start off with the fact that I wasn’t too much of a fan of the incessant wild behavior the kids displayed. I did try to take their story-line into account when processing their actions. However, I just felt it was a little over the top without any correction or guidance.
Honestly, I’m also not a huge fan of slapstick. While I can tolerate some, it felt like this movie just took too much creative license that ended up not resonating well for me on a personal level.
SPOILER WARNING: I AM ABOUT TO TALK ABOUT ONE SPECIFIC SCENE HERE ~ BUT I THINK PARENTS NEED TO KNOW THIS.
There was one scene in the movie that really caught me off guard and it breaks my heart to share how uncomfortable this made me feel.
There is a scene where the youngest is in need of a “change” due to a “blowout.” That change is the responsibility of the firefighters. However, I don’t understand why the writers felt it was necessary to create this scenario in a way that has two of the firefighters (John Cena and Keegan-Michael Key) literally “staring” at this little girl’s “mess.” I mean it – staring.
As a mother, I was very, very uncomfortable with this.
While I can respect the fact that it was “their responsibility” to change her, the fact that they dramatically drew out the “staring” aspect of the scene disturbed me to no end.
Speaking of the “mess,” I explain further below why this scene may not be suitable for those who have weak stomachs.
To be honest, there were a good handful of bathroom references in this film and another one that made me wince a little. If the above wasn’t enough, there is a scene where John Cena has to relieve himself, but the youngest child refuses to leave his side. I don’t think I need to elaborate any more on that one….you get the picture. Nothing obscene is shown, but the implied may be uncomfortable.
Would I recommend Playing With Fire?
Playing With Fire seems to be a movie designed for those who:
- Have a tremendous affection for John Cena and must see every movie in which he has a role.
- Love comedy truly for the sake of laughing, whether it makes sense or not (there is nothing wrong with this, by the way).
- Are looking for a movie that has some heart, but don’t mind it blanketed heavily in slapstick comedy.
While it was not one of my favorite movies to watch, I can’t and won’t speak for the masses. I can see how some would enjoy the entertaining qualities of the type of humor used within the film. It is perfect for those who may enjoy over-exaggerated and intentionally unrealistic antics.
For those who are bothered by that kind of humor, you may want to skip this one ~ at least in the theaters. It may very well make for a fun family night movie at home. At least then, you can fast forward / skip through certain parts.
What You Should Know
I want to make sure I’m providing my audience with the know-before-they-go, so I wanted to share a few things I think you should know before you make a decision to see this movie.
As noted above, the movie doesn’t have that much in the way of foul language. I can’t really remember any, to be quite honest. That’s a good thing!
There is a little kissing, but nothing head-turning.
Yes, John Cena does take his shirt off (of course he does).
There are a number of bathroom references (commonly referred to as “boom boom.”) Please refer to my conversation above regarding the two scenes that made me cringe as a mom.
For those who have difficulty with children screaming ~ I’m warning you now. There are a handful of scenes where the youngest does exercise her vocal ability. She’s adorable, for sure, but she does raise that voice and it will affect some.
Fortunately, there is no true downright rebellion that would make a parent sigh. However, there is some curiosity that finds a little trouble here and there.
Oh, and one more thing…
To further elaborate on the scene where I described the youngest being in need of a change, this may also be disturbing for those who have a weak stomach. If the mere suggestion of someone else vomiting triggers you, this scene may be rather bothersome.
So….my final thoughts?
Okay, I’ll admit it. I laughed – a few times. It has some cute scenes and there are parts that are truly endearing. Sadly, the ending is quite predictable, but it will make you smile. I am a fan of John Cena in real life, as he has been a tremendous supporter of organizations such as Make-A-Wish (granting over 500 wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses). I find both Key and Leguizamo hilarious and typically enjoy their humor in movies. The movie’s story-line as a whole has a good message.
However, this one just didn’t cut it for me. I simply just don’t think it’s MY kind of movie. If you’re into slapstick with a little heart, however, you may find yourself enjoying it a little more than the rest.
Playing With Fire is already out in theaters.
Have you had the chance to see it yet? What are your thoughts?
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