The previous to movies that I have seen in the theaters, Jojo Rabbit and Doctor Sleep, I gave five star reviews. Can that string continue?
The latest John Cena comedy called Playing with Fire came out this weekend and saw Cena as a “smokejumper” which is a kind of fire fighter who jumps from helicopters into the heart of blazing fires to battle them. Cena’s character, Jake Carson, is a legacy smokejumper descended from one of the greatest smokejumpers off all time and he has a drive to follow in his late father’s footsteps. One day, Jake and his crew arrived at a cabin in the woods that was one fire and saved three children. Unable to contact their parents, the firefighters had to look after the kids.
I already knew that this film was going to be a major step down from the recent run of top notch movies I have seen. While I understood that this film is really not made for me (it is targeted at those around 10, maybe), that does not excuse the film from being as poor as it is. Lots of poop jokes and predictable plotlines punctuated this film. John Cena is fine and his comedic timing is pretty good. He just needs something comedic to do.
The film also has a couple of great actors in it. I love Keegan-Michael Key and he was the one character that I found even remotely funny. He is another actor in this movie that deserved more than what was given to him. John Leguizamo is here too, but he is totally unremarkable as a character. Tyler Mane (Sabretooth from the X-Men movies) plays a character named Axe, who does not speak, but does carry around an axe, for no apparent reason.
The kids are competent. Brianna Hildebrand (Negasonic Teenage Warhead from Deadpool) is the oldest of the kids, Brynn. None of these kids, who apparently have lived through some serious crap in their lives, act as if they are anything but mischievous kids.
Though this movie is supposedly targeted toward children, there are several storylines that do not feel like a child would want to see. There is a relationship between Cena and Judy Greer that is as forced as could be and there is a subplot about John Cena’s job and desire for a promotion. Neither of these feel as if they belong in a kids movie.
To be fair, the movie does have some heart and should get some points for being sweet. The ending, while seen from a mile away, does its best to tug on the heartstrings of the audience. The ending was sweet enough to make me bump its score up probably a half a point.
Not that it is going to be a big score. Halfway through the movie, I was considering this one of the worst films of the year. Now, it will probably make the top 30 list, but it may not be in the top 10.