Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Archive for February, 2020

The Call of the Wild * An Amazing Film, Based on Jack London’s Book, Some Disturbing Images

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

Buck is a big-hearted dog whose blissful domestic life gets turned upside down when he is suddenly uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Alaskan Yukon in the 1890s. As the newest rookie on a mail-delivery dog sled team, Buck experiences the adventure of a lifetime as he ultimately finds his true place in the world. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ruby A. comments, “My feelings about this movie are quite mixed. On one side, the use of CGI helps to portray the strong emotions of the dogs. On the other hand, there are many scenes containing brutal animal abuse that many audiences will find disturbing and unsettling.” Jolleen M. adds, “The Call of the Wild has such wonderful sets, cinematography and CGI. Although the film is pleasing to watch, the plotline itself is predictable and redundant. There are so many films out there about a man’s best friend and there is nothing in The Call of the Wild that sets it apart from them.” Damon F. wraps it up with, “The Call of the Wild is an amazing film based on a book with the same name by Jack London that follows the story of a massive, clumsy dog named Buck, who gets taken away from his master, is forced into slavery and struggles trying to discover his true destiny.” See their full reviews below.

The Call of the Wild
By Ruby A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

My feelings about The Call of the Wild are quite mixed.  Mainly because of how effective the CGI is in portraying the strong emotions of the dogs—that is fine except when the dogs are abused, and that could be disturbing and unsettling for some audiences. However, overall the storyline of the movie is incredibly well-structured and detailed.

The Call of the Wild is about Buck, a fearless, strong dog who has been through so much in his life. After being shut out on the porch of his California home, Buck’s name is called and he finds himself in the hands of a dog seller, who locks him inside of a box for transport. A while later, he is recruited to pull a dogsled that delivers mail in Alaska. After a journey full of twists and turns, Buck discovers a whole new world with someone he loves and trusts by his side. 

Some of the lead characters include John Thornton (Harrison Ford) Perrault (Omar Sy) and, of course, Buck. What really stands out is the CGI that is essential to express the emotions of the animals. It is really effective—the dogs look almost human! With such emotion in their eyes, and their actions, there is barely anything that humans can’t relate to. (Except for the furriness!) The difference the CGI makes is in the emotional impact and how it helps the audience feel attached to the characters, and love for them, too. It improves the quality and aesthetic of the film, which makes the viewing experience vivid.

The Call of the Wild strongly conveys a message of how perseverance can make anyone a stronger, more intelligent person who can take on more difficult challenges than ever before. The film is successful in signifying this empowering lesson through symbolism and emotion. Audiences should beware of some aggressive behavior toward animals, and between other characters. Several weapons are used, such as a whip, a bat, and guns. Minimal amounts of blood are shown. There really isn’t any bad language, however.

I give The Call of the Wild 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. You can find The Call of the Wild in theaters on February 21, 2020.

The Call of the Wild
By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

The Call of the Wild has such wonderful sets, cinematography and CGI. Although the film is pleasing to watch, the plotline itself is predictable and redundant. There are so many films out there about a man’s best friend and there is nothing in The Call of the Wild that sets it apart from them.

Based on the novel by Jack London, the storyline follows a dog named Buck who is stolen from his home on a ranch. He is sold to become a sled dog to deliver mail. Buck has many encounters with a man named John Thornton who eventually becomes Buck’s owner. They become very close and John takes him on a trip to the other side of the mountain in honor of his late son, because it is a trip that he would have loved. Unfortunately, another man named Hal, whose judgment is clouded by greed, believes that John is taking this trip because he knows where the gold is. Hal follows him with ill intentions. Because of this whole journey Buck, in the end, finds where he belongs.

Harrison Ford, who plays John Thornton, embodies his role and shows the audience the bond that Thornton develops with Buck. It’s almost as if he sees Buck as his own son. The dog that plays Buck is named Buckley. He was a stray dog in Kansas and director Chris Sanders and his wife adopted him because he was the same breed as the dog in the novel. Buckley went from being on the streets to starring in a movie where he gives an amazing performance.

The story is set in Alaska where the scenery is quite beautiful. They capture the majesty of the frozen mountains and even the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. The CGI for the dogs is photorealistic. It is super cute how they show the dogs’ emotions by their facial expressions.

My favorite parts of this film are the various shots of the scenery. It really looks so beautiful in both the daytime and nighttime shots. I loved seeing it and it makes me want to visit those places.

The message of this film is about realizing that life is a journey and will be full of challenges, but through these challenges you will find your place. If Buck wasn’t kidnapped from his home on the ranch he never would have truly been happy. Without the challenges that he faced, he would have never gotten his freedom in the wild. Everything happened for a reason, from being tortured to meeting John Thornton.

I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18. Even adults might enjoy this film. The Call of the Wild comes out in theaters on February 21, 2020, so check it out!

The Call of the Wild
Damon F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

The Call of the Wild is an amazing film based on a book with the same name by Jack London that follows the story of a massive, clumsy dog named Buck, who gets taken away from his master, is forced into slavery and struggles trying to discover his true destiny.

When the movie begins, Buck is taken away from his home and must adapt to his new environment in the wilderness. I really like the way the movie shows him changing to fit in. They use a giant, black, shadow of a wolf with glowing, yellow eyes. Every time Buck needs to make an important decision, the wolf is there leading him to the best path.

The animation and CGI in this movie are great; all the dogs look incredibly realistic. There is a dog fight between Buck and another dog that is very intense and the dogs act just like normal dogs act when fighting each other. The cinematography, with the visual effects, is really outstanding. Each different landscape has thousands of small details that showcase the amazing power of Mother Nature, which is exactly what the movie wants to show to us.

My favorite character is Buck the dog; he is playful, kind, funny and all-around relatable character. Buck is the main character in the movie, even though he doesn’t talk. My favorite scene is when John Thornton, Buck’s final owner, is trying to drink his bottle of whiskey and Buck keeps knocking his glass out of his hand. Eventually, Buck steals the bottle and buries it in the yard. This scene was hilarious and it made me think that Buck was saying, “no drinking.”

There are two different messages that this movie offers. One is, “you don’t need to hurt people to be a leader; be kind and you will get your best team.” The second is, “Mother Nature is powerful, don’t try to take too much from it, only take what you need so the world can stay as beautiful as it is today.”

I rate this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to18 because some jokes most kids won’t understand. This film comes out in theaters February 21, 2020. Look for it.

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Registration Open for KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Boot Camp 2020 @ Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University, June 22-27

Friday, February 14th, 2020

The One and Only KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Boot Camp
Coming This Summer to Philadelphia, June 22 to 27, 2020
Tweens and teens learn to critique films, interview celebrities and speak on-camera

The KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Boot Camp will meet at the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University this summer, June 22 to 27. Taught by leading educators, film critics and media specialists, children ages 9 to 16 learn to become entertainment reporters through this intensive program. This camp has taken place in previous years on the Disney lot in Burbank (CA), Discover Communications World Headquarters in Silver Spring (MD), Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network’s Headquarters in Brooklyn (NY) and other locations. 

I found KIDS FIRST! by online research and never imagined it was going to be a total life-changing experience for my daughter. KIDS FIRST! is not just a way of living for us; it is a unique  experience to be part of the KIDS FIRST! Film Critics team.  I’m grateful that KIDS FIRST! provides us with such an engaging experience where we can share our love for films with others. I love seeing my daughter strive to be better everyday. (Mariana M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic parent)

The KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Boot Camp offers young people the opportunity to learn the skills they need to critique and review films, present their reviews on-camera and interview celebrities. “Children learn a variety of behind-the-scenes film industry skills as they watch and critique the latest films, write reviews, present their reviews on-camera and learn interview techniques. During camp they meet and learn from working film critics as well as actors, directors and producers of films designed for youth and families, both in person and via Skype interviews,” says Ranny Levy, KIDS FIRST! Founder and President.

We believe that learning and fun can be one. As campers watch and review films, they are learning skills that will last a lifetime including improved critical thinking skills, improved writing and vocabulary skills, interviewing skills, improved team building and listening skills, and of course building self-esteem and confidence.

“KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Boot Camp definitely helped me improve my vocabulary and writing. I used to not like writing and now I do,” said Angel David Gonzales who participated in one of the camps in Brooklyn, NY. Gonzalez’s teacher, Madeline Rodriguez noted that participating in the camp boosted his confidence as well.  “It was really nice to see him open up from his shell and really embrace this experience and opportunity,” she said.

Following the camp, campers have the opportunity to join the KIDS FIRST! Film Critics team of reporters.

Reviews by KIDS FIRST! Film Critics are watched and read by more than seven million people every month through broadcast, print and online publications including YouTube, Kidzworld.com, Kidsville News, GRAND Magazine, Press4Kids, SoCal City Kids and many more. 

KIDS FIRST! FILM CRITICS BOOT CAMP 2020 DETAILS:

Age: 9 to 16
Date: June 22 through 27, 2020.
Time: Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily; Saturday (Parents included): 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Location: Klein College of Media and Communication, Temple UniversityTuition: $399
Partial Scholarships are available.
Learn more, register and apply for a scholarship at: https://www.kidsfirst.org/become-a-juror/2020.BootCamp.html

Watch Sandy Kenyon’s coverage of our 2017 Camp on ABC Eyewitness News .

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Sonic the Hedgehog * Based On A Favorite Game Character, This Hits It Out Of The Park!

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

Sonic tries to navigate the complexities of life on Earth with his newfound best friend — a human named Tom Wachowski. They must soon join forces to prevent the evil Dr. Robotnik from capturing Sonic and using his powers for world domination. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “I like this movie because is based on one of my favorite game characters… The graphics in the movie are excellent and, with the new sonic design, it looks like Sonic is real.  The new design works better than the Sonic design Paramount Pictures had before redoing this movie.  The special effects are impressive too, such as Sonic’s blue lightning which also looks real.” Zoe C. adds, “I’ve never played Sonic the video game and was never a really big fan of the character but I really like this movie. It is very well done and great for the whole family. I like the animation and I love the acting. The story is very human and has very little to do with video games. It is about friendship and friends that become a family.”  Tiana S. contributes, “I really love this movie! Sonic the Hedgehog’s team nails it creating a movie based on the SEGA video game of the same name. There are amazing special effects from the beginning to the end.  I love how it includes parts from the SEGA game, such as Sonic running in vertical loops and his spin attacks. I felt as if I was watching a live version of the actual game!” Ian C. wraps it up with, “Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog was the first non-educational video game my mom allowed me to play. I was five years old, and making Sonic speed through worlds was awesome! This film lives up to my expectations—it’s funny and just as exciting as my first time playing the game.” See their full reviews below.    

Sonic the Hedgehog
Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 11

I like this movie because is based on one of my favorite game characters. Sonic the Hedgehog is a live-action film—except for Sonic who is a CGI character (Ben Schwartz)—based on the global blockbuster video game franchise from Sega.

Sonic (Ben Schwartz) in SONIC THE HEDGEHOG from Paramount Pictures and Sega. Photo Credit: Courtesy Paramount Pictures and Sega of America.

The story of Sonic the Hedgehog follows Sonic, a small blue hedgehog who has super-speed powers.  When Sonic was younger, his owl guardian gave him a bag of rings to help him escape to different planets in case anyone discovers and kidnaps him because of his powers.  One night, after he comes to Earth, he is playing baseball by himself and he gets upset because he realizes he is very lonely.  Sonic runs in circles as fast as he can because he is upset.  He is so fast that blue energy comes out of his body causing the whole town to black out. 

This power outage causes big problems for Sonic who is pursued by a crazy military man named Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey) or Dr. Eggman, as Sonic calls him. Fortunately for Sonic, the town’s sheriff (James Marsden) catches him and helps protect him from Dr. Robotnik.

Jim Carrey in SONIC THE HEDGEHOG from Paramount Pictures and Sega. Photo Credit: Doane Gregory.


The graphics in the movie are excellent and, with the new Sonic design, it looks like Sonic is real.  The new design works better than the Sonic design Paramount Pictures had before redoing this movie.  The special effects are impressive too, such as Sonic’s blue lightning which also looks real.  Ben Schwartz did and very funny voiceover for the Sonic character.  He is really full of energy.

The moral of this movie is that you are never alone in the world.  There will always be someone for you to be your friend, to talk to and to be by your side when you need it.  When Sonic is feeling alone, Sheriff Tom, or The Doughnut Lord, as Sonic calls him, takes Sonic to protect him and help him get to the Mushroom planet where Sonic needs to go.

Sonic the Hedgehog is filled with a lot of action and fun.  I give this film 5 out of 5 stars.  If I could, I would give this movie 100 out of 100 stars.  I recommend it for ages 5 to 18 plus older adults. Sonic the Hedgehog comes out in theaters on February 14, 2020. 

Sonic The Hedgehog
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I’ve never played Sonic the video game and was never a really big fan of the character but I really like this movie. It is very well done and great for the whole family. I like the animation and I love the acting. The story is very human and has very little to do with video games. It is about friendship and friends that become a family.

Sonic the Hedgehog is about a blue hedgehog that ends up on earth and he’s trying not to be discovered. He lost a ring that helps him transport to places. When humans find Sonic, he has to run away (something he does well because he moves at super sonic speeds). Sonic feels lonely and wants a friend. When he meets Tom, a police officer (James Marsden), they develop a great “bromance,” but they have to face Mr. Robotnik who is obsessed with everything fast and wants to experiment with Sonic. In their journey, both learn they don’t have to run away from their problems.

I love all the characters! Dr. Robotnik is so funny and pleasing to watch. He is played by Jim Carrey, who is one of my new favorite actors. His performance is amazing and he is definitely a fascinating villain. He is graceful, entertaining and full of life. I also love the character Sonic; even though it is an animated character he really looks realistic. I could really see all the details in Sonic and I felt like he was pretty much a stuffed animal, opposed to a virtual digital character. Sonic is played by Ben Schwartz, an amazing voice actor who gives the character a great personality.

Jim Carrey in SONIC THE HEDGEHOG from Paramount Pictures and Sega. Photo Credit: Courtesy Paramount Pictures and Sega of America.

It’s so amazing to see a character that was made about 30 years ago continuing to fill children’s hearts with joy. I think Sonic is 100% absolutely adorable and all the characters are so fun to watch. There are a lot of action scenes and wonderful colors in the film as well. The music adds so much energy; it is catchy and upbeat. Finally, I like all the jokes and they definitely made me laugh. To add to that, I love how Sonic gives everyone their own special nickname. That gives the movie its own special touch and I guess I’ll nick name this film “Blue Speedy Furry with Heart.”

I give Sonic the Hedgehog five out of five stars and recommended it for ages 4 to 13. The message of this film is that friends in our lives bring us the most joy and they are the family we chose. Another message is that humans will always be more important than technology. Dr. Robotnik keeps trying to make technology a greater power than humans, but Sonic and everyone prove that our simple life and connections are what really matter. Sonic the Hedgehog opens February 14, 2020. Look for it!

Sonic the Hedgehog
Tiana Sirmans, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Sonic (Ben Schwartz) in SONIC THE HEDGEHOG from Paramount Pictures and Sega. Photo Credit: Courtesy Paramount Pictures and Sega of America.

I really love this movie! Sonic the Hedgehog’s team nails it creating a movie based on the SEGA video game of the same name. There are amazing special effects from the beginning to the end.  I love how it includes parts from the SEGA game, such as Sonic running in vertical loops and his spin attacks. I felt as if I was watching a live version of the actual game!      

Sonic the Hedgehog is about a blue, fast and funny hedgehog named Sonic (Ben Schwartz) who has to escape his home in another world and ends up on Earth. He accidentally causes a power outage and has to hide out in Green Hill, Montana. The government tries to hunt him down and hires Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey) to capture him. Sonic meets a cop named Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) or Donut Lord, as Sonic calls him, and Tom agrees to help Sonic, find his rings and defeat Dr. Ivo Robotnik, who wants to use Sonic’s power to take over the world.

The lead characters are Sonic, Tom Wachowski and Dr. Ivo Robotnik. It is very clever that the movie takes place in Green Hill, Montana, since the first level of the actual SEGA game is called Green Hill Zone. My favorite character is Sonic because he is funny. I love how he is made to have lives, just like he does in the SEGA game. One of my favorite scenes is when Dr. Ivo Robotnik has a virtual reality screen behind him and it shows a dinosaur running after him. Jim Carrey uses his flexibility to lower his head to make it look like the dinosaur bit it off. The movie is filled with special effects, such as explosions and lightning when Sonic runs. Sonic’s CGI perfectly match his character in the video game. This is something the producer went back to correct before releasing the film. The music ties into what happens for each part of the movie; however, I was a little disappointed that the song Super Sonic used in the trailer is not in the movie.  

Sonic (Ben Schwartz) in SONIC THE HEDGEHOG from Paramount Pictures and Sega. Photo Credit: Courtesy Paramount Pictures and Sega of America.

The main message of Sonic the Hedgehog is that you should consider home wherever people that care the most about you are. There isn’t much to be forewarned about besides Dr. Ivo Robotnik uses some minor foul language.   

I rate Sonic the Hedgehog 5 out of 5 rings and recommend it for kids ages 6 to 18. Adults, especially gamers, will also love this movie. Since it’s based on the Sonic the Hedgehog video game by SEGA, it may remind them of their own childhood. It’s a great action-packed, family movie. Catch Sonic the Hedgehog in theaters starting February 14, 2020. Be sure to stay for the credits.

Sonic the Hedgehog
By Ian C., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 11

Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog was the first non-educational video game my mom allowed me to play. I was five years old, and making Sonic speed through worlds was awesome! This film lives up to my expectations—it’s funny and just as exciting as my first time playing the game.        

Sonic (Ben Schwartz) in SONIC THE HEDGEHOG from Paramount Pictures and Sega. Photo Credit: Courtesy Paramount Pictures and Sega of America.

In Sonic the Hedgehog, a talking alien hedgehog, Sonic, uses magic rings to get to Earth. Here he hides from those that would seek to use his powers for bad. Sonic, (Ben Schwartz), is extremely lonely, and one day his emotions get out of control. He accidentally causes a huge power outage that gets the attention of the U.S. government. The government calls in a psychotic inventor named Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey) who is chasing Sonic to perform experiments on him.  Sonic tries again to use his rings to run to another world, but a startled local sheriff (James Marsden) causes Sonic to lose his rings. The sheriff decides to help Sonic find his rings and escape Dr. Robotnik.

Sonic (Ben Schwartz) in SONIC THE HEDGEHOG from Paramount Pictures and Sega. Photo Credit: Courtesy Paramount Pictures and Sega of America.

The cast of this film makes it 99 minutes of hilarious excitement.  Choosing one favorite part was difficult. I tossed a coin between the super crazy bar fight and Dr. Robotnik’s dance breakout. Jim Carrey dancing to his “Tunes of Anarchy” playlist won the toss. My stomach hurt from laughing.

The message of this film is eventually you have to stop running and face your fears. Otherwise, you can’t get the things you want out of life.

Sonic the Hedgehog has minimal violence and profanity. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Adults will enjoy it as well. You can find Sonic the Hedgehog in theaters February 14, 2020.

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Playing With Fire * Great Family Friendly Movie With Message About the Importance of Family

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

When straight-laced fire superintendent Jake Carson and his elite team of firefighters come to the rescue of three siblings, they quickly realize that no amount of training could prepare them for their most challenging job yet — babysitting. As their lives, jobs and depot get turned upside down, the three men soon learn that children — much like fires — are wild and unpredictable. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “Playing With Fire is a super-duper good movie. I like it because it shows the difference between only caring for yourself and caring for others. I also love how it shows all the crazy things that kids can get into at a fire station, when left alone.” Eva W. adds, “Playing With Fire is one of the greatest family movies I have ever seen!  It is a family-friendly, feel-good movie with an important message – family is the most important thing to help you keep going.” Ethan P. adds, “I like this movie because it is very entertaining and super funny.  John Cena makes the audience laugh and it is weird to see him with a head full of hair.” Leando R. wraps it up with, “The message of this movie is that family and friends are important. When someone needs some help, they try to help them like a family. The firefighters have to treat the siblings like they are their kids and teach them what to do and not do. All of them have to stay together for a little while and they start to grow on each other.” See their full reviews below.

Playing With Fire
By Tiana Sirmans, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

Finley Rose Slater in PLAYING WITH FIRE from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Doane Gregory.

Playing With Fire is a super-duper good movie. I like it because it shows the difference between only caring for yourself and caring for others. I also love how it shows all the crazy things that kids can get into at a fire station, when left alone. Originally, I didn’t understand the title, Playing with Fire, because, even though the firefighters rescue people from fires, they don’t “play with fires” at all in the movie. When I thought about the phrase “playing with fire” and what it means, it made more sense. 

Playing with Fire is about a team of specially trained firefighters, called smokejumpers led by Superintendent Jake “Supe” Carson (John Cena), who saves three kids from a burning log cabin using a helicopter. Since he and his crew are unable to safely deliver the kids to their parents due to stormy weather, they take the kids back to the fire station until their parents return. In addition to taking care of the kids, Jake is also trying to get a promotion. He tries to find time to apply for this promotion while the kids are “playing with fire” or getting into all types of trouble at the fire station.

L-R: Judy Greer, John Cena, John Leguizamo, Finley Rose Slater, and Christian Convery in PLAYING WITH FIRE from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Doane Gregory.

The protagonist is Superintendent Jake “Supe” Carson. The movie takes place at the smokejumpers’ base in Redding, CA. My favorite part is when the young boy Will (Christian Convery) accidentally spills cleaning powder in the room where Jake’s truck is stored and he tries cleaning it up with water from a hose. The room is filled with all these bubbles and he is flying around the room with the water hose. One weird part is when “Supe” first drops from the helicopter to save the kids; he doesn’t have on the typical safety equipment that firefighters wear to help them breathe. He and the kids have an entire conversation in the middle of a burning log cabin and everyone is breathing fine in the smoke-filled room.

The message in the movie is that everyone has a soft side and it’s okay to show it. It’s okay to let your guard down and let people into your world. You never know what you could be missing out on in life if you don’t. Some things adults should look out for are characters accidentally drinking lighter fluid and scenes where John Cena is shown shirtless or in the shower.

Playing with Fire is fired up with plenty of fun and laughs so I give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. Adults may not enjoy the film as much, especially since most of the funniest scenes are in the trailer. Playing with Fire releases digitally on January 21 and on DVD/Blu-ray February 4, 2020. Look for it. It’s a fun family movie.

Playing With Fire
By Eva W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Playing With Fire is one of the greatest family movies I have ever seen!  It is a family-friendly, feel-good movie with an important message – family is the most important thing to help you keep going. There is a lot of comedy in this movie that makes the audience laugh out loud.

L-R: Tyler Mane, Christian Convery, Keegan-Michael Key, Brianna Hildebrand, John Leguizamo, Finley Rose Slater (back to camera), and John Cena in PLAYING WITH FIRE from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Doane Gregory.

The story line is both adventurous and exciting.  There is lots of action, but it is not violent. The characters are super funny and the acting is phenomenal! If I had to recommend any film to watch with friends and family, it would be this one. Some parts are sad, but there is also plenty of action and comedy to keep the audience engaged.

Playing With Fire is about four smokejumpers, which is an elite team of fire fighters. Jack and his friends are specially trained to jump into dangerous wildfires, so they can rescue people and fight fires. Their lives are perfect, until they find three kids trapped in a fire and this special group of men is forced to hang onto them until they can find their parents. Until then, they have to fight fires and take care of the kids. What could go wrong?

John Cena and Christian Convery in PLAYING WITH FIRE from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Doane Gregory.

The cast in this film is amazing!  The casting director, Rich Delia, not only picked some big names to be in this film, but also found some talented newcomers. The whole cast portrays their characters really well and they are hilarious too! Superintendent Jack Carson, head of the smokejumpers, is played by John Cena, a well-known actor and WWE wrestler. Keegan-Michel Key, a famous comedian, plays Lieutenant Mark, a friend of the Superintendent and another smokejumper.  Jack’s soft-hearted friend, Rodrigo, is played by John Leguizamo. Brianna Hildebrand plays Brynn, the oldest of the three kids. This film also has a dog named Masher, that is Jack’s fierce firehouse dog. Masher is very well trained and his interaction with the kids is hilarious.  Andy Fickman directs the film.

I give Playing With Fire 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, as well as adults. Playing With Fire is available digitally on January 21 and on DVD/Blu-ray February 4, 2020.

Playing With Fire
Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

I like this movie because it is very entertaining and super funny.  Playing With Fire is a 96 minutes filled with shenanigans.  John Cena makes the audience laugh and it is weird to see him with a head full of hair.

This movie is about four smokejumpers played by John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, Tyler Mane and John Leguizamo, who save three kids from a cabin on fire.  The three children are siblings and two of them, Will and Zoe, are under the age of 10. Their older sister Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand, X-Men) is taking care of them.  The smokejumpers bring the kids to their depot until their parents can come to get them.  The kids constantly mess with all the equipment at the fire depot, which distracts the smokejumpers from doing their jobs.

The storyline includes comedy and sometimes sad moments.  The visuals are perfect. The fire scenes look real. The child actors are great at portraying their characters.  My favorite scene is when Will is feeding peanut butter to the smokejumpers’ dog and he accidentally spreads it on the firefighter truck.  Will drops the industrial soap and takes the firefighter hose to clean the mess and the truck makes lots of foam.

John Cena and Keegan-Michael Key in PLAYING WITH FIRE from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Doane Gregory.

The moral of this film is that family fulfills your life, in addition to working hard to accomplish your professional goals.  Jake’s (John Cena) priority is his career.  He works hard to achieve and accomplish his title in the firefighter department and forgets to have fun or remember that there are people around him that love him.

I give this 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 5 to 18 and adults can enjoy it too!  Playing with Fire releases digitally on January 21 and on DVD/Blu-ray February 4, 2020.

Playing with Fire
By Leandro Ramirez, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Playing With Fire is a funny and a fantastic Nickelodeon movie. It has so many funny moments and cool stunts. There are some scenes that are very emotional. It is very fun and upbeat. It is an enjoyable movie for the whole family to watch.

The storyline is about fire superintendent Jake Carson (John Cena) and his elite team of firefighters, coming to the rescue of three siblings and realizing that no amount of training could prepare them for their most challenging job yet – babysitting. The three siblings, Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand), Will (Christian Convery) and Zoe (Finley Rose Slater) cause trouble all over the fire depot and are uncontrollable, much like fires. There are lots of hilarious moments that everyone will laugh at, and sad moments where you might cry.

The cast of Playing With Fire, especially John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo and Brianna Hildebrand, elevates the film and makes it amazing. They all put their own little twist on their character and it is really cool how they perform all of their stunts. The cinematography and special effects are fantastic as well. The director, Andy Fickman, should be commended for outstanding direction as well as the screenwriter, Dan Ewen, who wrote a funny script.

The message of this movie is that family and friends are important. When someone needs some help, they try to help them like a family. The firefighters have to treat the siblings like they are their kids and teach them what to do and not do. All of them have to stay together for a little while and they start to grow on each other.

I recommend this movie for ages 6 to 12, as well as adults. Younger audiences will find it more fun and exciting than teens will. I give this movie 4 out of 5 star rating. Playing With Fire came out in November in theaters and now it is available digitally on January 21 and on DVD/Blu-ray February 4, 2020.

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