Playing With Fire: Tyler Mane’s AXE Steals The Show from a Far Too Jacked John Cena (Blu-ray Review)

by | Feb 4, 2020

Called “fun for the whole family” (Mark Pacis, Nerd Reactor) and “full of laughs” (Jamie Mariano, The Movie Elite), the hilarious family comedy PLAYING WITH FIRE debuts on Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand February 4 from Paramount Home Entertainment. Here is my review of the Blu-ray:

When firefighter Jake Carson (John Cena) and his team (Keegan-Michael Key & John Leguizamo) rescue three siblings in the path of a wildfire, they quickly realize that no amount of training could have prepared them for their most challenging job yet – babysitting. While trying to locate the children’s parents, the firefighters have their lives, jobs and even their fire station turned upside down and learn that kids – much like fires – are wild and full of surprises.


Aside from when I gasped in horror (about 3 or 4 times) because of the pure shock in witnessing how jacked John Cena was, and I think he’s reached the point where he has too many muscles — Playing With Fire might be the most heartwarming family friendly comedy I’ve seen in ages. This is a genuine safe for kids laugh-out-loud romp that although, geared towards a younger audience, still made me chuckle and laugh like an idiot during several moments. Cena may be the lead here and he does a fantastic job playing this Captain America hard-ass who leads a small crew of smoke jumpers, but the film truly rests on the shoulders of a superb and hysterical supporting cast. Keegan-Michael Key is genius as always (I loved the bit where he gets incredibly worked up over the oldest daughter’s sarcasm) and John Leguizamo is vintage 90’s silly-ass Leguizamo so that warmed the cockles of my heart. Yes I said cockles in a family film review.

The biggest shock for me was seeing Tyler Mane – yes that Tyler Mane – Sabretooth and Michael Myers Tyler Mane in his towering glory here as a firefighter aptly named AXE. Yes he also carries an axe throughout the entire film, barely says a word (until later in the film) and loves watching My Little Pony. Seeing Mane flex his comedic chops had me rolling. There’s even a moment in the movie where he drags his axe along the floor of a toy store aisle in order to scare off another customer who is looking to buy the same toy he needs for a party. Mane was actually my kids’ favorite character in the film and they always quote the AXE scenes the most.

Speaking of which – my kids loved Playing With Fire so much, that they asked to watch it again the next day, and the day after that and as I’m writing this review – my 5-year-old daughter is currently watching the movie yet again because she loves it so much. The film is simple, fast-paced, a little too silly for its own good and there are so many plotting issues that your head will be spinning. Why does the little toddler child make that screaming noise all the time? That’s not a human child noise is it? You overlook this dumb stuff because you’re too busy having a good time and if you aren’t laughing, then your kids WILL be and they’ll be laughing A LOT. Director Andy Fickman knows his audience and he does an admirable job with this flick. I don’t know if I’d recommend it for young single dudes, but if those young single dudes loved them some classic 90’s family flicks like 3 Ninjas (then maybe they should give Playing With Fire a shot).

Special Features:

  • Storytime with John Cena
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Bloopers
  • Lighting Up The Laughs
  • The Director’s Diaries: Read By Star Cast
  • What It Means To Be A Family
  • The Real Smokejumpers: This Is Their Story

The bonus segments are all short, but they’re pretty awesome. I especially loved the ‘Real Smokejumpers’ clip (it is a little TOO fast, but hey at least it was there). Seeing the REAL firefighters jumping out of planes to battle fires in that unforgiving terrain is pretty incredible. You’ll get to see some of the only 320 smokejumpers in America talk about the intense training and difficulty of their job. These dudes pack on 90 pounds of gear and THEN jump out of a plane to parachute into forest fires in order to dig trenches and stop the spread of flames. It’s insane and every kid should watch this little feature after seeing the movie. ‘Storytime with John Cena’ is a completely unnecessary clip of the man telling his version of the 3 Little Pigs, but the ending made my kids laugh their asses off, yet again proving that this movie KILLS with that crowd and moreso than any of the animated films they’ve been watching the past year.

The bloopers and behind-the-scenes stuff is all wonderful and you truly get a sense of how much fun the actors had while making Playing With Fire. This truly was a film that was created to make the audience feel happy. From the silly physical gags, to the heartwarming ending (I teared up just a little bit, not gonna lie) – this Blu-ray is a must-own for families. My kids, ages 5, 9 and 10 — loved the Hell out of it and I had a great time laughing alongside the family.

Rating: 4/5