Fighting with My Family
When a film about one of WWE’s biggest stars is produced by WWE Studios, with Dwayne Johnson acting as one of the executive producers, it’s not surprising that Fighting With My Family – written and directed by Stephen Merchant – gives a wholly romanticised interpretation of the story of how celebrated female wrestler Paige (Florence Pugh) rose to glory from her humble roots as a teenager from Norwich with huge dreams of making it to the big time. Although this underdog tale does follow all the formulaic beats we’d expect from a film of this sort, to its credit Fighting with My Family is smart enough to focus more on the underlying family dynamics, which gives Merchant’s film a whole lot of heart and makes for a delightfully entertaining flick.
With a script by The Office and Extras co-creator, there’s plenty of humour to be had here. Although not every joke lands as well as perhaps intended, the vast majority of amusing quips are more than enough to leave a grin on the viewer’s face. A large part of the comedy comes from the endearing performances from the cast, specifically from Nick Frost as Paige’s ex-con father, who’s brutish charms and heart of gold make for a winning combination. Likewise, Vince Vaughn and Dwayne Johnson (who makes brief cameo appearances) also lend a lot to the film’s likeability factor with their charismatic onscreen presences – Vaughn as the tough but caring coach and Johnson as himself.
Although the high-flying wrestling action is bound to please fans, due to the film being a love letter to the sport, Fighting with My Family is arguably at its best when it moves away from the blinding lights of the ring to examine the effect Paige’s move to the WWE has on her family, specifically regarding the relationship with her brother (Jack Lowden), which becomes fractured when Paige is chosen over him. Rather than being a purely by-the-numbers underdog story, the movie’s family-focused drive provides much-needed depth to the protagonist, making her journey all the more satisfying. Pugh, too, gives a highly commendable performance as the wrestler-to-be, even if we know every step of her journey from the offset.
Fighting with My Family is in many ways as generic a film of this type as you can get. However, with a large focus on the family dynamic that acts as the driving force for the characters’ motivations and a large helping of good humour, it’s nonetheless hugely entertaining.
Fighting with My Family is released nationwide on 1st March 2019.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Glasgow Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Fighting with My Family here: