Californian firefighter Jake ‘Supe’ Carson (John Cena) is facing a challenging and critical time. He’s an elite, second-generation, ‘smoke-jumping’ squad leader. But several members of Jake’s firefighting team have abandoned him to join more prestigious squads, just as his depot is about to be inspected by Commander Richards (Dennis Heysbert) and Jake hopes to be promoted. To make things more complicated, Jake rescues three siblings from a burning cabin and agrees to put them up at his depot until their parents – supposedly away on a holiday – pick them up.
Before long, smart and inquisitive teenager Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand), wild and curious tween Will (Christian Convery), and preschooler Zoe (Finley Rose Slater) turn the fire depot upside down. As Jake, Mark (Keegan-Michael Key), Rodrigo (John Leguizamo) and ‘Axe’ (Tyler Mane) get to know and cherish the siblings, they also learn about their personal tragedy. The children’s parents died in an accident two years previously, and they’re on the run from child protection services who want to split them up into different families.
A one-for-all, all-for-one team spirit and intergenerational friendships take shape, and it becomes clear what’s truly important in life.
Death of parents; bravery; importance of family; friendship; fostering/adopting children
Playing with Fire has some violence. For example:
- There’s some action violence that results in characters being mildly hurt but not seriously harmed. For example, Axe gets angry at Rodrigo and throws him against a wall.
- Jake is banged several times against a cabin ceiling in an unsuccessful attempt to airlift him out.
- There are some scenes of threatened violence. For example, Axe never lets go of his firefighting axe and uses his large size and grumpy demeanour to scare people. He’s actually a very gentle man, who looks out for the people he cares about.
Playing with Fire has some sexual references. For example:
- Mark has a poster next to his bunk bed that shows a woman’s bare back and behind. Mark quickly rips the poster down when the children see it.
- A romance develops between Jake and Dr Amy Hicks (Judy Greer), a local scientist. They kiss once.
- Brynn suggests that Jake should ask Dr Hicks to spend the night at the depot. Jake says that this would be inappropriate. Brynn says that she meant that Dr Hicks could sleep in one of the spare bunks.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Playing with Fire has one suggestion that adults drink some wine during dinner.
Nudity and sexual activity
Playing with Fire has some partial nudity. For example:
- Mark has a poster next to his bunk bed that shows a woman’s bare back and behind.
- Jake is seen topless a few times.
The following products are displayed or used in Playing with Fire: Spam.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Playing with Fire is an action comedy with lots of crude and slapstick humour, suitable for families with slightly older children.
The underlying theme of parents dying means the movie is unsuitable for children under five years. This is also why we recommend parental guidance for children aged 5-8 years.
The main messages from this movie are that you learn the most valuable lessons when you’re out of your comfort zone and that family and friendship are the most valuable things in life.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:
- being brave
- being honest
- being a good friend
- fighting for your family
- reflecting on yourself and your values
- embracing your inner child even if you’re a grown-up
- feeling joy when you do something nice for someone else
- helping others and accepting help from others.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like:
- trying to live up to someone else’s expectation and losing sight of your own dreams
- behaving in reckless and impulsive ways – for example, in an attempt to run away from the authorities, Brynn and her siblings nearly have a fatal accident
- not judging people by first impressions – for example, straitlaced, dutiful, strong Jake has a vulnerable and insecure side, and silent, grumpy Axe is soft and caring.