Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

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

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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