A former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment.
Stephen Merchant’s new film Fighting With My Family follows the start of the wrestling career of Paige, from her wrestling centric family and upbringing in Norwich, England as she then travels to the United States for a chance to join the professional wrestling league. Mostly from a background in TV, Merchant not only directs the new film, but he also takes on both writing and producer duties and to top it all off serves as a cast member as well.
Starting with her as a young girl, the biographical sports/comedy film picks up with Paige’s childhood before transitioning quickly to her opportunity to rehearse for a chance at joining the WWE. Far from the gritty drama of The Wrestler, Fighting With My Family is more centred in the drama/comedy space, as it explores the working class life of Paige’s family and their struggles to make ends meet, but with a charming and endlessly entertaining cast.
The film delivers a sense of optimism despite hardship, in what is overall a fairly straight forward tale, and formulaic tale of pursuing ones dreams and the hurdles encountered along the way.
Despite knowing how the plot is likely to unfold, Fighting With My Family still manages to have a lot of fun along the way, it even manages some smaller sub plots which are a little atypical of what you’d usually see in a film such as this. No sporting film would be complete without the obvious montage of course, and you’ll find this film has its fair share of those sorts of tropes.
The wrestling choreography on display is very entertaining, it’s engaging to watch and is partially used as a vehicle for some of the drama of the film, naturally this works pretty well given its narrative and makes the fight scenes a highlight.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson makes a bit more than just a cameo here, he’s charismatic and entertaining as always, Vince Vaughn is in fine form with his dry humour, and derogatory comments throughout, but this story largely rests on the shoulders of Florence Pugh and Jack Lowden, here they have good chemistry and deliver engaging, entertaining performances over their respective arcs without being called upon for particularly intense scenes.
Made with a modest production budget of just $11 million, things don’t look as good as your typical block buster but they make the most of what they have, and the final set piece combined with a great wrestling match all comes together to go out on a high note, and a satisfying conclusion.
Fighting With My Family is pretty easy to recommend, it’s light hearted, predictable but enjoyable, and the comedy works far more then it doesn’t. The characters are likeable so it’s hard not to be emotionally invested by the final act, it’s a small film with lofty ambitions and it more than makes the most of what it has to offer.
Fighting With My Family will be released on Australian screens from 21 March, 2019. I’m giving it 7.5 out of 10.