Cast; Florence Pugh, Lea Headey, Nick Frost, Dwayne Johnson
Director: Stephen Merchant
Runs: 109 Minutes
Opens: March 24th
Today professional wrestling is a huge, international conglomerate with extraordinary shows such as WWE and Wrestle Mania watched by millions every week. With all of that in mind, “Fighting With My Family” is an important cultural moment for wrestling fans, set in the heart of the wrestling world, and sold on the back of former champion wrestler Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. At the centre of this tale is the Knight family with Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh), who would become a WWE star known as Paige. Under the guidance of ‘Rowdy’ Ricky Knight (Nick Frost, the family all work for the Norwich-based World Association of Wrestling. Ricky and his wife Julia (Lena Headey) have ambitions for their kids they want Saraya and brother Zak ‘Zodiak’ (Jack Lowden) to work for the WWE, but their humble origins make this somewhat unlikely.
Anyone familiar with either the real-life story of Paige or the general structure of a sporting underdog tale will be able to decipher the way this is all going to pan out. Paige is signed by WWE trainer Hutch Morgan (Vince Vaughn), while Brother Zak must return to Norwich after a harsh rejection. Soon Paige is rubbing shoulders with a bunch of blonde, fake-tanned fitness models in a foreign country and attempting to let her in-ring experience do the talking as her nerves get the better of her.
Florence Pugh is terrific as Paige. On the most basic level, she perfectly mimics the mannerisms and physicality of the real-life performer and nails her unique Norfolk accent. However, the performance is about how Paige manages to embody the underdog spirit and outsider appeal that allowed her to stick out in amongst what was then the ‘Divas’ division in WWE, more focused on Hair do’s and sex appeal than the wrestling excellence that the ‘Women’s Revolution’ in today’s wrestling has become the norm. But the story is also about the wider Knight family. Nick Frost is excellent as the larger than life Ricky Knight, embracing the brash, crude charm of the real man. Jack Lowden, meanwhile, delivers a layered performance as the troubled Zak, who becomes a very angry man who cannot get over his rejection ‘ Fighting With My Family” delivers a unique blend of fiction and reality in a business which is very much part “soap opera in spandex” and emotional people. The film is not a rough and ready portrait of wrestling’s harsh realities; it’s a broad and wide-ranging sporting story that revels in its comedy as much as its bona fide emotion. And fans will love seeing The Rock return to the ring in an all-out People’s Champion event. This movie will charm you, whether you know what submission holds are or you’re still clueless as to the nature of a power slam. The film is in simple terms “escapism”, and that’s exactly what it is for its audience to enjoy.
Score: 7 out of 10