Playing With Fire. Review.

Do you ever see a trailer and your first reaction is something along the lines of ” well there’s an easy worst of the year candidate.” That was the case for me with the trailer for Playing With Fire. I enjoy a good slapstick comedy but this looked like it was imported directly from the mid-2000s knockabout family movie craze. Then it is opened in the US and I saw some hilariously scathing online reviews that confirmed my impressions.In a bizarre move Cineworld announced this as being on on the slate of Unlimited screenings for November and December. Well well I thought I get to see it a mouth early and I can see if it’s truly as bad as that trailer. So I went along to the preview. Was it as horrendous as I expected?
Yes and no. Don’t get me wrong this ticks all the bad kids entertainment boxes. Cheap looking with actors that deserve better and a reliance on a lot of toilet humour as well as badly executed slapstick set pieces. That said it’s hard for me to get scathing about it because for better or worse it delivers exactly what the trailer promises. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that at times the goofiness is extreme enough to extract a few grudging laughs (although this might be my tolerance for goofy slapstick.) The funniest moment of the film was definitely unintentional as the baseline of Uptown Funk comes in during footage of a forest fire in the opening scene (you can’t make this stuff up.) There’s also an insane amount of similarities to the the rather wonderful if significantly flawed Instant Family from last year,especially when it’s revealed that the kids that John Cena and his firehouse have to look after have run away from home. Both films end with a very similar adoption sequence. I’ve seen Instant Family three times (including twice in cinemas) but I’d watch it 50 times over if the choice was it or watching Playing With Fire again.
Don’t get me wrong Playing With Fire is really bad. That said as someone who enjoys and defends certain properties reliant on goofy slapstick (especially anything with Rowan Atkinson) it was far from the worst thing ever. If you or your kids enjoy this style of humour you could do worse. That said everyone else should probably stay as far away as possible.
General UK Release. 26th December.

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