One of my favorite things when I go shopping is to check the DVD/Blu-Ray aisles. Sometimes you happen to catch upon a movie that you might have missed in theaters for any number of reasons. I feel confident in saying that “Fighting with My Family” is one of those films that if you give it a try, you won’t regret it.
Written and Directed by Stephen Merchant (If the name sounds familiar, he helped co-create a little show in the UK you might have heard about once or twice “The Office”) , Fighting With My Family tells the story of WWE superstar Paige’s rise from local indie wrestling in Norwich to the top of the WWE. At first glance, Fighting with My Family looks like your typical movie about pro wrestling (Or Sports Entertainment depending on the person). Instead, the movie is so much more than just wrestling but tells the story of one young woman named Paige’s journey to the peak of her profession while also learning Yes, wrestling is heavily involved with the film and it’s climax but also is a story about a young woman’s journey to become a professional wrestler. A story about a young woman’s struggle and journey to reach the highest peak of her profession while also dealing with a very unique family whose life revolves around that same sport.
A biographic film, Fighting With My Family also gives some laugh out loud funny laughs while never skipping on emotional scenes involving family. Some of those laughs are dispensed by a terrific supporting cast headed by Nick Frost and Lena Headey who play Paige’s dad and mom – Ricky and Saraya Knight. They do a exceptional job of playing the type of parents that can love and embarrass their kids in the same heartbeat. VInce Vaughn plays Hutch Morgan, a WWE trainer who picks Paige to go to NXT In Florida to train for a spot on the main roster. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays…well himself in a couple of scenes as he gives Paige some advice early on to be the first her and wish her well right before her debut. However, Fighting lives and dies on the main performances of it’s two main characters and thankfully they are more than up to the task.
Fighting with My Family is a showcase performance for Florence Pugh who plays the main character of the movie : Saraya- Jade Bevis aka Paige from the WWE and Jack Lowden who plays Paige’s brother “Zac Zodiak”. By far the best scenes of the movie are when the two of them are interacting with each other. They do a great job of having that bond and showing that bond that only brothers and sisters have with one another where one minute you are giving each other crap and the next being their biggest supporter. When Paige tells Zac that she’s going to quit WWE to come home, you feel both of their sadness. During Paige and Zac’s argument after she finds him at a bar, they yell at each other the way siblings do that really care for one another.
Don’t be shocked if in a few years, Pugh is winning numerous awards and trophies. Playing real-life people is never easy but Pugh does a great job of showing Paige’s fear and anxiety so much so that you find yourself rooting for her to overcome all the troubles that is thrown in her way. The best thing an actor can do is making you believe in the character that they are playing. Make you feel every emotion, every up and down they go through in the course of a film. Florence has that ability to do just that.
What I didn’t expect is how impressed Lowden was in this film. His performance of Zac is full of heartbreak. The scene where he calls Hutch asking why he wasn’t picked with Paige is full of emotion but never overdone. He plays Zac as a flawed character but one who has a good heart. He’s happy when Paige is picked but also devastated when he’s not. Seeing Zac’s journey rival Paige’s in WWE was an excellent choice for Merchant to make and helps add to the emotional beats of the story.
Now that’s not to say that Fighting is a perfect movie. The film hits you so hard in the head with some of tropes (Hard-ass trainer who doesn’t believe in the main character…BUT Actually does!) that you’ll feel like you’ve taken a Superman punch from Roman Reigns. The hardcore wrestling fan might get a little irritated at some of the liberties taken with Paige’s story to the top. However, these are just minor as Fighting With My Family is a wonderful inspirational tale of always believing in yourself and believing in your family no matter what. Wrestling can be great sometimes and the moment where Paige fulfills her dream is a prime example of that as her family celebrates watching her.
So to end this review, I’d like to leave you all with this: A quote from Ricky Knight that I can relate to since I was a young kid watching my first ever wrestling show.
“Some people find religion. Well, I found wrestling.”
Bonus Features on the Blu-Ray include:
- Deleted & Extended Scenes
- Gag Reel
- A Family’s Passion : A Making- Of
- Learning the Moves (AKA the actors learning how to wrestle)
- Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Stephen Merchant