“Fighting with My Family” stars Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn, and Dwayne Johnson. Released on February 14, 2019, the film is about a sister and brother duo who compete for roles in the WWE.
The film is directed by Stephen Merchant, who also directed “Cemetery Junction”. It is based on the 2012 documentary, “The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family”. Families fight for one another in many different ways. This family has their own way, and that is professional wrestling. This latest biopic chronicles the lives of a family filled with professional wrestlers, most notably former wrestler Saraya Bevis (aka “Paige”). Despite not being a huge fan of wrestling, I was interested in seeing it because of Dwayne Johnson’s involvement as both executive producer and actor. Plus, I was curious to see how this particular woman became who she is today since I wasn’t familiar with her to begin with. Since its premiere at Sundance last month, the film has received unanimous praise for its energy and heart, but are they enough to draw in a mainstream crowd?
Based on actual events, the story chronicles the rise of Saraya “Paige” Bevis (Pugh) leading up to her victory at the 2014 WWE Divas Championship. I have always enjoyed sports movies, especially the ones that are biographical, for many different reasons, including the drama, the laughs, and of course, the sports action. While some of them may not be perfect, they always have that specific spark that made me want to relive these experiences over and over again. Unsurprisingly, “Fighting with My Family” is no exception. Under the direction of Stephen Merchant, the film suitably blended the light-hearted humor with its sports drama to craft something that WWE fans and non-fans can enjoy without the heavy emphasis on one or the other. Yes, it can be formulaic at times and the emotional moments were a bit watered down, but when it comes to the cast and the film’s heartwarming message, they hardly even matter. Ranging from Florence Pugh as Paige to the delightful Dwayne Johnson as Dwayne Johnson, the actors succeeded in creating the charismatic spark that we normally see in the other light-hearted sports movies. My personal highlights of the cast would have to be Pugh, who was riveting as Paige, Nick Frost as Patrick Bevis, and Vince Vaughn as Hutch Morgan. Frost was surprisingly brilliant and hilarious, and Vaughn continued his streak of dramatic roles in spectacular fashion. When you get past its predictable plot points, you’ll find that the story has a solid amount of heart, fun, and intelligence that respects Paige’s journey as well as the sport it represents. There were a few parts that were a bit slow, but the film found a way to maintain its pacing so that it didn’t get pinned down so quickly.
Overall, “Fighting with My Family” fights its way to victory and to my heart. Despite its formulaic storytelling and its hit-and-miss emotional beats, the film was able to wrestle its way to the top by providing plenty of feel-good moments for people of all ages. Yes, even those who aren’t big fans of wrestling. With its charismatic cast, Merchant’s direction, and an inspiring message, this is one family that I would gladly fight for again.