Playing With Fire

Playing With Fire

2019, PG, 96 min. Directed by Andy Fickman. Starring John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo, Judy Greer, Tyler Mane, Brianna Hildebrand, Christian Convery, Dennis Haysbert, Finley Rose Slater.

REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., Nov. 8, 2019

This mirthless comedy about a manly crew of smokejumpers helplessly babysitting a trio of rescued brats has more dead air in it than a radio broadcast hosted by a narcoleptic disc jockey. In the silence following each flat-footed joke, one right after the other, you can hear oxygen molecules bumping into each other. Playing With Fire begins with the dramatic aerial entrance of the firefighting foursome as they parachute into a blazing California forest, led by all-work-and-no-play Superintendent Jack “Soup” Carson (Cena), a square-jawed stickler with a plastered-down haircut and the button-popping physique of an overinflated GI Joe action figure. Soup’s heroics shortlist him for a long-awaited promotion, but everything gets turned upside down when he and his three colleagues (Key, Leguizamo, and a pickaxe-cradling Mane) must temporarily care for three parentless siblings saved from a burning cabin, each of them a poster child for human sterilization. While the oldest of them creeps around the firehouse like some snoopy specter, the two younger spawns of Satan run amok in the place, aiming nail guns and fireball pistols at their adult caretakers and serving them teacups of lighter fluid (not to mention pooping in their mouths – oops, mentioned!), all the while impishly giggling as they wreak third-rate Home Alone mayhem in a movie only an exorcism could salvage.

Who’s to say whether the movie is dumbed down for a juvenile audience, or just plain dumb(ed)? (Clue: Director Fickman also helmed Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.) Whatever the case, the Three Stooges pratfalls in Playing With Fire fail to pass comedic muster, even for an 8-year-old. While Cena amusingly poked fun at his macho persona in Trainwreck and played up daddy anxiety in Blockers, he tries way too hard to be funny here, as does everyone else in the movie, except for the firehouse dog. The canine’s performance is the only honest one in the bunch, whining and whimpering in reaction to selected comic misfires in a movie chock-full of them. As for Greer’s turn as the movie’s toad-loving love interest, she’s given the dubious honor of reciting its most memorable – and not in a good way – line, one dispensing advice about child-rearing, even though her character appears to have zero experience on the matter. “Kids are like fires, you can’t control them,” she says Yoda-like with a straight face. “You just have to contain them until they burn themselves out.” Ugh. Will someone please call Child Protective Services?

Showtimes

Mon., Nov. 11

12:20, 2:55, 5:30, 8:05, 10:40

Tue., Nov. 12

3:00, 5:35, 8:10, 10:45
AFA 12:25

Wed., Nov. 13

12:25, 3:00, 5:35, 8:10, 10:45

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 South Capital of Texas Hwy, 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Mon., Nov. 11

CC/DVS 11:50am, 2:20, 4:50, 7:20

Tue., Nov. 12

CC/DVS 11:50am, 2:20, 4:50, 7:20

Wed., Nov. 13

CC/DVS 11:50am, 2:20, 4:50, 7:20

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Mon., Nov. 11

digital 11:15am, 1:50, 4:25, 7:00, 9:35

Tue., Nov. 12

digital 1:50, 4:25, 7:00, 9:35

Wed., Nov. 13

digital 1:50, 4:25, 7:00, 9:35

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Mon., Nov. 11

digital 11:00am, 1:40, 4:20, 6:50, 9:30

Tue., Nov. 12

digital 11:00am, 1:40, 4:20, 6:50, 9:30

Wed., Nov. 13

digital 1:40, 4:20, 6:50, 9:30

Thu., Nov. 14

digital 1:40, 4:20, 6:50, 9:30

Mon., Nov. 11

digital 11:30am, 2:05, 4:40, 7:15, 9:50

Tue., Nov. 12

digital 11:30am, 2:05, 4:40, 7:15, 9:50

Wed., Nov. 13

digital 11:30am, 2:05, 4:40, 7:15, 9:50

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Mon., Nov. 11

digital 11:20am, 1:50, 4:20, 7:20, 9:50

Tue., Nov. 12

digital 11:20am, 1:50, 4:20, 7:20, 9:50

Wed., Nov. 13

digital 11:20am, 1:50, 4:20, 7:20, 9:50

Thu., Nov. 14

digital 11:20am, 1:50, 4:20, 7:20, 9:50

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., Nov. 11

digital 11:00am, 1:35, 4:00, 7:00, 9:30

Tue., Nov. 12

digital 11:00am, 1:35, 4:00, 7:00, 9:30

Wed., Nov. 13

digital 11:00am, 1:35, 4:00, 7:00, 9:30

Cinemark Stone Hill Town Center

18820 Hilltop Commercial Dr., 512/251-0938, www.cinemark.com

Mon., Nov. 11

digital 12:00, 3:00, 6:30, 9:00

Tue., Nov. 12

digital 12:00, 3:00, 6:30, 9:00

Wed., Nov. 13

digital 12:00, 3:00, 6:30, 9:00

City Lights Theatre

420 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, 512/868-9922

Mon., Nov. 11

1:00, 3:55, 7:00, 9:45

Tue., Nov. 12

1:00, 3:55, 7:00, 9:45

Wed., Nov. 13

1:00, 3:55, 7:00, 9:45

EVO Entertainment

3200 Kyle Crossing, Kyle, 512/523-9009, www.evo-entertainment.com

Mon., Nov. 11

10:30am, 1:00, 3:30, 6:00, 8:25, 10:45

Tue., Nov. 12

10:30am, 1:00, 3:30, 6:00, 8:25, 10:45

Wed., Nov. 13

10:30am, 1:00, 3:30, 6:00, 10:45
OC 8:25

Galaxy Highland 10

6700 Middle Fiskville, 512/467-7305, www.galaxytheatres.com

No one under 18 will be allowed in the theatre on Friday or Saturday after 7pm without an adult.

Mon., Nov. 11

CC 10:15am, 12:45, 3:15, 6:00, 8:30, 11:00

Tue., Nov. 12

CC 10:15am, 12:45, 3:15, 6:00, 8:30, 11:00

Wed., Nov. 13

CC 10:00am, 12:25, 2:50, 6:35, 9:10, 11:00

Thu., Nov. 14

CC 10:15am, 12:45, 3:15, 6:00, 8:30, 11:00

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., Nov. 11

CC/DVS 12:10, 2:45, 5:10, 7:30, 10:30

Tue., Nov. 12

CC/DVS 12:10, 2:45, 5:10, 7:30, 10:30

Wed., Nov. 13

CC/DVS 12:10, 2:45, 5:10, 7:30, 10:30

Thu., Nov. 14

CC/DVS 12:10, 2:45, 5:10, 7:30, 10:30

Hometown Cinemas

120 MLK Jr. Industrial Blvd. W, Lockhart, 512/398-4100, www.hometowncinemas.com

Mon., Nov. 11

11:25am, 2:00, 4:30, 7:00

Tue., Nov. 12

11:25am, 2:00, 4:30, 7:00

Wed., Nov. 13

11:25am, 2:00, 4:30, 7:00

Thu., Nov. 14

11:25am, 2:00, 4:30, 7:00

AMC Lakeline 9

11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., Cedar Park, 512/335-4793

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Mon., Nov. 11

CC/DVS 11:45am, 2:15, 4:45, 7:15, 9:45

Tue., Nov. 12

CC/DVS 2:15, 4:45, 7:15, 9:45

Wed., Nov. 13

CC/DVS 2:15, 4:45, 7:15, 9:45

Metropolitan

901 Little Texas, 512/447-0101

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., Nov. 11

CC/DVS 11:50am, 2:30, 5:10, 7:50, 10:30

Tue., Nov. 12

CC/DVS 11:50am, 2:30, 5:10, 7:50, 10:30

Wed., Nov. 13

CC/DVS 11:50am, 2:30, 5:10, 7:50, 10:30

Thu., Nov. 14

CC/DVS 11:50am, 2:30, 5:10, 7:50, 10:30

Moviehouse & Eatery

8300 N. FM 620, Bldg. B, 512/501-3520, www.themoviehouse.com/trails/

Mon., Nov. 11

12:30, 3:15, 6:00, 8:45

Tue., Nov. 12

11:45am, 2:45, 5:30, 8:15

Wed., Nov. 13

12:30, 3:15, 6:00, 8:45

Schulman Theatres Lost Pines 8

1600 Chestnut St, Bastrop, 512/321-0123, www.schulmantheatres.com

Mon., Nov. 11

10:40am, 1:45, 4:30, 7:15, 10:10

Tue., Nov. 12

10:40am, 1:45, 4:30, 7:15, 10:10

Wed., Nov. 13

10:40am, 1:45, 4:30, 7:15, 10:10

ShowBiz Cinemas 8 Marble Falls

2600 Hwy 281 North, Marble Falls

Call theatre for August 22-23 showtimes.

Mon., Nov. 11

2:00, 4:20, 7:20

Tue., Nov. 12

2:00, 4:20, 7:20

Wed., Nov. 13

2:00, 4:20, 7:20

Thu., Nov. 14

2:00, 4:20, 7:20

Sky Cinemas

13201 US-290, 512/457-0700, www.skycinemas.com

Mon., Nov. 11

11:00am, 1:25, 2:40, 5:00, 7:20, 9:40

Tue., Nov. 12

11:00am, 1:25, 2:40, 5:00, 7:20, 9:40

Wed., Nov. 13

11:40am, 1:25, 2:40, 5:00, 7:20, 9:40

Thu., Nov. 14

1:25, 2:40, 5:00, 7:20, 9:40

Starplex 12 San Marcos

1250 Wonder World Drive, San Marcos, 512/805-8000

Mon., Nov. 11

11:45am, 2:20, 4:55, 7:30, 10:00

Tue., Nov. 12

11:45am, 2:20, 4:55, 7:30, 10:00

Wed., Nov. 13

11:45am, 2:20, 4:55, 7:30, 10:00

Thu., Nov. 14

11:45am, 2:20, 4:55, 7:30, 10:00

Westgate 11

4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-2717

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., Nov. 11

CC/DVS 11:00am, 1:35, 4:10, 10:20
CC/DVS, OC 7:55

Tue., Nov. 12

CC/DVS 11:00am, 1:35, 4:10, 7:55, 10:20

Wed., Nov. 13

CC/DVS 11:15am, 1:45, 4:15, 7:55, 10:20

Thu., Nov. 14

CC/DVS 11:00am, 1:35, 4:00, 7:55, 10:20

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Playing With Fire, Andy Fickman, John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo, Judy Greer, Tyler Mane, Brianna Hildebrand, Christian Convery, Dennis Haysbert, Finley Rose Slater

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