subscribe: Posts | Comments

Fighting with My Family – Movie Review

Comments Off on Fighting with My Family – Movie Review

Fighting with My Family – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Universal Pictures

Wrestling has an extremely passionate fanbase who enjoys the performance art that comes from seeing these strong men and women in the ring. It might not be to everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s not entirely hard to see the appeal. In chronicling British wrestler Paige’s rise to WWE stardom in Fighting with My Family, Stephen Merchant has directed a sweet and funny comedy that nonetheless plays within the sports playbook. He’s also helped by a charming cast who further shows the motives of each individual character as well as the strong family bond between the Knights. There’s something oddly endearing about how their love of wrestling connects them.

While WWE fans will probably walk into Fighting with My Family aware of Paige’s story and the inside baseball of wrestling, Merchant thankfully makes the film accessible to complete novices who only know Dwayne Johnson and John Cena from their movie appearances. Merchant doesn’t just fill his screenplay with in-jokes and references only the wrestling devotees will understand, while also not turning the movie into one big commercial. This allows the training and trials that lead to finding the next WWE talent to become genuinely interesting and they create the proper connection to Paige. Florence Pugh properly shows Paige’s thought process and the tough decisions she has to make as she tries to prove herself.

The family dynamic also works in the film’s favour. The sibling bond between Paige and her brother Zak, played by Jack Lowden, is nicely portrayed in both the writing and the performances. Nick Frost and Lena Headey also shine as the patriarchs of the Knight clan and properly show the passion they have for the sport. Fighting with My Family has a genuine affection for the Knights and the only mocking done is with each other. Merchant’s comedic sensibilities come through quite nicely in the movie with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments never at their expense or at wrestling in general. Vince Vaughn is notably impressive as the head training coach, toning down his usual fast-talking shtick and his methods are understandable.

Serving as one of the film’s producers, Dwayne Johnson also appears in a few scenes. He provides a few laughs, but then gets out of the way and doesn’t try to overshadow Pugh or make himself the star of Paige’s story. Fighting with My Family also works in showing the contrast between the Knights’ wrestling style and the more professional and commercial approach used by the WWE. For outsiders, the film takes the time to teach certain terminologies without getting in the way of the humour and character development. Merchant also takes a few stabs at the sexism the WWE has been criticised for in the past and despite Vaughn’s character, it’s the female wrestlers who get the principal voice in the movie.

Wrestling may be the key setting of Fighting with My Family, but it’s mainly a story about, well, family. Stephen Merchant has a clear love for the sport and wants to share it with the world, but he seems particularly keen in introducing us to the Knights and they are an endearing group. While they definitely have their flaws, they manage to be quite likeable and sympathetic as we see life in their small town of Norwich and what they do to help their community. Paige’s own storyline is incredibly sweet and touching and that creates a beating heart for this sports comedy.

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE

Stefan Ellison