Playing with Fire Parent Guide
If you find potty humor amusing, this is the film for you. No one else is going to want to watch it.
Parent Movie Review
If you consider potty humor to be the pinnacle of wit, this is your lucky day. If you want to watch actors flex their muscles instead of actually emoting, you have really struck gold. Playing with Fire, a completely pointless piece of children’s cinema, fits these criteria to a “T”.
Anyone who’s watched the trailer can figure out the story behind the movie. An elite crew of firefighters (known as fire jumpers), led by Jake Carson (John Cena) rescues three youngsters (one teen and two younger siblings played by Brianna Hildebrand, Christian Convery and Finley Rose Slater) from a burning cabin. The parents can’t be located, so it falls to the firefighters to look after the kids until the parents return. Think Daddy Day Care with fire extinguishers and you’ve figured out the rest of the story. Mouthy, precocious kids and clueless adults produce comic mayhem; mutual respect develops; and a happy ending ensues.
If that sounds predictable, you’d be right. But the target audience – kids – isn’t going to complain. That’s because they’re having a blast with the nearly non-stop poop jokes. The youngsters in the screening I attended were laughing out loud, and the hilarity peaked with a scene involving an explosive diaper change. For kids, the comedy probably rates about an 8 out of 10. For adults, it’s about as funny as watching crazy Uncle Fred tell the same jokes every year over the pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.
Not only will adults wince at the jokes, they won’t be moved by either the story or the acting. John Cena is painfully wooden and his attempts to look rigid and uptight come across as bland and boring. He is easily upstaged by his sidekicks, played by Keegan-Michael Key and John Leguizamo. Key is the only consistently funny part of the movie, with fine comic timing and highly expressive facial expressions. Parents will also be disturbed by the attitude – pervasive in the film – that children are an inconvenience who prevent adults from doing more important things. The kids practically have to prove their worth and value to adults, and that’s simply sad.
On the plus side, Playing with Fire has very little in the way of content issues, aside from the aforementioned potty humor. There are some moments of extreme peril, but with such uninteresting characters, it’s hard to get too emotionally invested. It also manages to promote positive messages around the importance of making family a priority and working together. Ultimately, however hard this movie tries to tug at our heartstrings, its own mediocrity works against it. With its predictable plot and one-note characters, not only can’t it start a fire; it can barely light a spark.Directed by Andy Fickman. Starring John Cena, Judy Greer, and Keegan-Michael Key. Running time: 96 minutes. Theatrical release November 8, 2019. Updated November 9, 2019
Watch the trailer for Playing with Fire
Playing with Fire
Rating & Content Info
Why is Playing with Fire rated PG? Playing with Fire is rated PG by the MPAA for rude humor, some suggestive material and mild peril.
Violence: There are scenes of peril involving firefighters in dangerous situations. A vehicle containing children almost goes over a drop; the children are saved at the last minute. There is an ATV accident. Flare guns are fired indoors. There are numerous episodes of people falling off of and into things; these are played for comic relief. A man with an ax pretends to be a zombie to frighten someone else. A dodgeball game gets a bit rough but there are no injuries. One character slaps another in the face. Characters talk about loved ones who have died, some in fires.
Sexual Content: A man and woman kiss. There is a poster of a barely covered woman’s backside.
Profanity: No actual swearing but lots of crude bathroom language.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None noted.
Page last updated November 9, 2019
Loved this movie? Try these books…
If your young reader is fascinated by firefighters, there’s lots of reading material to choose from.
Chris L Demarest’s Firefighters A to Z familiarizes youngsters with the equipment used in fighting fires.
Flashing Fire Engines by Tony Mitton gives kids an up close look at how firefighters actually battle blazes. For even more realism, check out I Want to Be a Firefighter. Written and lavishly photographed by Dan Liebman, this gives kids a realistic look at the job.
And not all firefighters are male. Lois G Grambling has written My Mom Is a Firefighter.
p>Forest fires don’t just affect people. In Forest Fire by Mary Ann Fraser, the forest life cycle is described and illustrated. Wildfires by Seymour Simon provides extensive photographs and a discussion of fire aimed at elementary school aged readers.
Related home video titles:
A man who has always put his career first, gets shot and wakes up in an alternate reality where he is married to his college sweetheart and raising two kids in The Family Man.
A couple become foster parents to three youngsters with lots of baggage in Instant Family.