Playing with Fire

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Playing With Fire
Playing with fire xxlg.jpg
This film really isn't contained.
Genre: Comedy
Directed By: Andy Fickman
Produced By: Todd Garner
Sean Robins
Written By: Dan Ewen
Matt Lieberman
Starring: John Cena
Keegan-Michael Key
John Leguizamo
Brianna Hildebrand
Dennis Haysbert
Judy Greer
Photography: Color
Cinematography: Dean Semler
Distributed By: Paramount Pictures
Nickelodeon Movies
Release Date: November 8, 2019
Runtime: 96 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $29.9 million
Box Office: $69.4 million
Prequel: Dora and the Lost City of Gold (by Nickelodeon Movies' filmography release)
Sequel: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run (by Nickelodeon Movies' filmography release)

Playing with Fire is a 2019 American family comedy film directed by Andy Fickman from a screenplay by Dan Ewen and Matt Lieberman based on story by Ewen. The film was theatrically released by Paramount Pictures on November 8, 2019, in the United States.


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.

Why It's 0% Contained

  1. It's one of these movies that wants to be funny, but even if it's a comedy, this movie is only made so Nickelodeon can get a cheap laugh out of the audience on any joke that counts as unfunny, repetitive, or really stupid.
  2. Some moments make no sense. For example, when the dog comes to get the kids, the young girl somehow trains her, which is just confusing.
  3. Terrible acting, even from experienced actors such as Judy Greer and John Cena, the latter of whom does an extremely awful job in this film, as he just acts as if he wasn't really trying, and acts in the movie as if he is not interested in this film despite enjoying his job. Most of the actors in this movie are just not even trying, with the exception of John Leguizamo, who seems to be trying way too hard.
  4. It’s never explained how the children’s parents went missing, as the plot forgets about it later. They never end up reuniting with their original parents for an unexplained reason, which is also messed up.
  5. Out of all the characters in this movie, Zoey is the most obnoxious. Not only is she an unlikable whiny little child meant to amp up the 'aw factor', but her trait is screaming and crying over the smallest of things which is at an ear-grating loud volume. And it goes on for an entire minute. It also happens multiple times throughout the whole movie. Zoey is also supposed to be 3 years old and is STILL in diapers for an unknown reason. She’s too old to be in diapers and should’ve been potty trained at her age. There’s no explanation as to why she’s in diapers, it’s just there.
  6. Laughable and paper-thin plot, with many characters thrown in that do nothing to the story.
  7. The humor and jokes are mostly not funny because most of the jokes are either disgusting (like the on-screen pooping scene), frustrating, inappropriate, stupid, repetitive, or are as well as not only cringe-worthy, but are just thought of for the movie to only get a cheap laugh out of the audience.
  8. The My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic references are so shoehorned, as well as being product placement. It is also shameless to the point where you can see a Pinkie Pie sticker on the opening logo and there's even one scene where Axe, one of the firefighters, sings the show's theme song in an operatic voice to Zoey, which is just spine-chilling, and the zoomed in shots on the characters' faces don't help matters. This was just pandering to people whether they liked the show or not.
    • In fact, the MLP franchise is owned by Hasbro with the US home entertainment and film rights currently being owned by Lionsgate as opposed to Paramount Global (the parent company of Paramount Pictures, the distributor of this movie), thereby making the references feel completely out of place in a Nickelodeon property. Adding further insult to injury, that show had already ended at its ninth (and final) season on October 12, 2019, while this film came out a month later, also making the references even more pointless than ever.
  9. There is a scene in which Zoey poops on Supe's face. This is not only disgusting, but the angle the scene is shot makes it look like Supe's head exploded, which is thankfully not the case if you understand what is actually supposed to be happening.
  10. This movie shows that Nickelodeon is trying way too hard to be hip and cool nowadays. They've done it before back then, and most of the time it works. But nowadays when they just add in pop culture references in the most poorly executed way or add in something they think is "cool, hip, edgy, and modern", it comes off as either cringe-worthy, or a big pile of annoyance.
  11. The running gags get very old to the point they start to become repetitive, stale, and not funny anymore.
    • From what was said about WIS #5, the running gag where Zoey screams and cries for no reason with only Supe (played by John Cena) to calm her down. It may not be a funny joke to begin with, but again, it gets very old very quickly.
  12. The film can barely go 5 minutes without shoving Keegan-Michael Key into the scene, as he constantly hijacks the scene. Plus, with all the constant mugging, he'll get annoying real fast.
  13. Terrible special effects that look fake and unrealistic. This is especially odd since they come from Industrial Light & Magic.
  14. The movie ends with the family doing the floss move and other "Fortnite dances", which makes the movie more dated.
  15. An infamous feminist preach, where Supe's love interest assumes that he wants her to look after the children in the fire department because "she is a woman". Although this is retconned when Supe tells her later on that he wants her to babysit the children because he wants to go to the shop with his employers to set up Zoey's birthday party before it's too late and not because she is a woman.
  16. At the start of the movie, when the movie shows it's title, the CGI looks worse than 90s CGI animated movies.
  17. The story is so clichéd it's not even funny.
  18. Pointless reference to the far superior firefighter film Backdraft (which is a firefighter film that is rated R and not for kids) where one character says "You go! I go!"
  19. Aside from the My Little Pony references, there are more product placements that include iPhone products.
  20. The film has no stakes whatsoever, since the characters often talk while they're surrounded by fire.
  21. Awful direction by Andy Fickman.
  22. The pacing is very bad.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Some decently funny moments such as the Darth Vader reference in the end of the movie as an outtake.
  2. The ending isn’t too bad despite the one part where the family does outdated dances.
  3. Brynn is one of the few likeable characters in the movie throughout.
  4. The action is decent despite the lack of stakes.
  5. Great music by Nathan Wang.


Playing With Fire received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics and audiences, who criticized it as annoying and unpleasant. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 24% based on 75 reviews, with an average rating of 4.1/10. The consensus reads, "Playing with Fire, sadly, is incinerated by the catastrophic inferno of its own sickening existence." However, as of now, the critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes is absent. Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 24 out of 100, based on 14 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews.". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, while those surveyed at PostTrak gave it an average 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Box Office

The film opened up at #3 on its opening weekend grossing $12,723,781 domestically. The film made a total domestic gross of $44,451,847. In foreign territories, it made $24,960,578. Overall, the film made a worldwide gross of $69,412,425 against its $29 million budget.


Nickelodeon Movies
Feature films:

Harriet the Spy - Good Burger - The Rugrats Movie - Snow Day - Rugrats in Paris: The Movie - Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius - Clockstoppers - Hey Arnold!: The Movie - The Wild Thornberrys Movie - Rugrats Go Wild - The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie - Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events - Mad Hot Ballroom - Yours, Mine & Ours - Nacho Libre - Barnyard - Charlotte's Web - The Spiderwick Chronicles - Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging - Hotel for Dogs - Imagine That - The Last Airbender - Rango - The Adventures of Tintin - Fun Size - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows - Monster Trucks - Wonder Park - Dora and the Lost City of Gold - Playing with Fire - The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run - Paw Patrol: The Movie* - Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Next Chapter - Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie*

Steaming films: The Loud House Movie - The J Team - Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie

*: Unlike previous films from Nickelodeon Movies, PAW Patrol: The Movie and its sequel was produced in Canada, and the film's copyright is owned by Spin Master rather than Paramount. Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies only presented the film internationally, and did not produce it outright.


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