Another Lovely Addition to the ‘Hyper-Masculine Buff Guy’ goes Paternal Trope
Watching the trailer for John Cena’s new Nickelodeon movie “Playing With Fire,” one might think that it looks familiar. A movie about a macho guy played by a buff actor being left in charge of a bunch of kids is certainly something we’ve seen before. From Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Kindergarten Cop” to Vin Diesel’s “The Pacifier” to Dave Bautista’s “My Spy,” this is a trope that has been done time and time again.
Each film and each actor brings something new to this micro-genre, however, so the ultimate question is really what John Cena and the people at Nickelodeon and Walden Media will do differently with it.
Experienced Children-Oriented Cast & Crew brings Much to Look Forward to
Andy Fickman is directing “Playing With Fire.” Fickman has directed a number of live-action kids movies from “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2,” to “She’s The Man” to “Race To Witch Mountain.” This is not even Fickman’s first film where a hyper-masculine leading man falls into a father position, as he directed “The Game Plan” with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson back in 2007. The film is also based off of a screenplay by novice writer and comedy actor Dan Ewen, and Matt Lieberman of “The Addams Family.”
What will really be stealing the show in “Playing With Fire” however will be John Cena, who plays firefighter Jake Carson. After Carson and his fellow unit members rescue a family of three children from a burning building, they must care for the kids until they reunite them with their family. Given the fact that the children are roughly three, nine, and sixteen years old, a whole lot of hilarity takes place when they are put in the hands of these inexperienced paternal figures.
John Cena has worked with children before. After becoming famous as a WWE wrestler, Cena moved into film acting in 2006 in the action-war movie “The Marine.” He swiftly moved over to starring in more wholesome comedic content, though, hosting Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards and the revival of “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” Known as a gentle giant both on and off screen, the massive Cena, standing six feet tall at 250 pounds, has an enormous heart beneath his muscly exterior, making him the obvious choice for the lead role in “Playing With Fire.”
Alongside Cena, Keegan-Michael Key and John Leguizamo play fellow firefighters in the movie. These two comedians are bound to provide some great banter, playing the two goofy sidekicks next to the hardened Cena. Likewise, the children in the film will be played by Finley Rose Slater, Christian Convery, and Brianna Hildebrand.
All the Kids Love John Cena, He’s basically a Giant Goofy TV Dad Already
Being hardly more than a toddler, Slater has never been in a movie before. At ten years old, Convery has appeared in a couple projects, including “Venom” and “Beautiful Boy.” Hildebrand, however, you may recognize as the comically apathetic Negasonic Teenage Warhead in “Deadpool” and “Deadpool 2.” Overall, there is a lot of talent in the film backing Cena up, both old and young, familiar and new.
This is the second time that Nickelodeon Movies joined forced with Walden Media this year. In August, the two production companies teamed up for “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” which received positive reviews and delivered as a fun comedy for the whole family. Joining the party for “Playing With Fire” is also Broken Road Productions, which has produced classic family films such as “Daddy Daycare,” “Are We There Yet?” and “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.”
In total, “Playing With Fire” may be a story that has been rehashed multiple times, yet it still seems promising in its own right. There is enough talent to keep the adults entertained and enough slapstick, kids humor to keep the children laughing. The movie comes out on November 8th and currently has no other major children’s movies to go up against. Thus, if everything goes right, “Playing With Fire” could spark an audience and ignite itself as a hit.
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