REVIEW: Playing With Fire a lukewarm kids comedy, with supporting stars igniting proceedings

Tell me if you recognize this plot: Selfish, arrogant, by-the-book officer/pilot/sports star/anything of authority is put in a situation where he has to deal with children, and comes to understand the need for love, family and work-life balance.

Oh right, Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Rock, and even Sinbad have been there. Now, John Cena is starring in the latest formula flick.

Cena stars as Jake Carson, fire captain extraordinaire who rules his firehouse with an iron grip. But when he and his team rescue three children from a house fire, they’re tasked with taking care of them until a storm passes.

Cue all of the cute feelings.

So, the good news is John Cena, who has great comedic timing, as evidenced in 2018’s Blockers, is really, really enjoyable here. But really, supporting players John Leguizamo, Tyler Mane (who was Michael Myers in Rob Zombie’s Halloween flicks) and Keegan-Michael Key are all absolutely fantastic.

In fact, Key had me in stitches most of the run-time. So while it has its faults, and few surprises, Playing With Fire gets by on its charm, cute child stars and some unexpected laughs.

If you’re looking for a nice holiday flick for the kids, you’ve found it here. Just don’t expect much more, or you’ll get burned.

2.5/5 Stars

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