"Fighting with My Family" Movie Review

Updated on January 3, 2020
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

Fighting with My Family
Fighting with My Family | Source

What were you doing at age 13? Chances are you weren’t sporting a leotard alongside your mom in a tag-team professional wrestling match organized by your dad. But that’s the life that Saraya Bevis knew, growing up in mid-2000s Norwich, England. Those, um, humble beginnings are the starting-off point for Stephen Merchant’s Fighting with My Family, a hilarious and touching (and surprisingly universal) chronicle of the rise of WWE superstar Paige.

Florence Pugh stars as Saraya (who wrestled as “Britani Knight” as a teen), a pale, Goth kid, who, alongside brother “Zodiac” Zac (Jack Lowdon), is the star of the family business. And that business is the World Association of Wrestling, led by mom Julia (Lena Headey) and dad Ricky (Nick Frost) in an effort to keep food on the table. Saraya and Zac have dreams of the big time, though, constantly submitting audition tapes to the WWE. And then the call comes—open auditions are being held in London.

The rigorous tryout, lorded over by hard-nosed coach Hutch Morgan (Vince Vaughn), results in Saraya scoring a trip to America for WWE boot camp, while Zac is told bluntly to give up on his dream and go back home. After initially refusing to go without him, Saraya eventually listens to Zac and heads to Florida to try to make it all the way to the WWE. (Spoiler—she makes it.)

Based on a 2012 documentary by Max Fisher, Fighting with My Family succeeds primarily because it takes all the pitfall-inducing tropes of underdog sports movies and turns them into something that feels wholly real and original. Sure we have a training montage as Paige struggles to keep up with the more fit and more qualified competitors. Sure we have a scene when her drill-sergeant coach tells her to quit. And sure you can practically hear the Rocky theme as Paige finally earns her spot in the WWE. But first-time director Merchant (who also wrote the screenplay and inserted himself in a cameo role) breathes so much life into the film that it succeeds almost despite itself. The script is smart, crisp, and funny, and takes a sport with a fervent, proprietary fan base and makes it across-the-board watchable. Of course, having Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on board as executive producer (and in a minor role as himself) doesn’t hurt. Johnson, in fact, was the one who handed the project to Merchant; they first met as co-stars in 2010’s Tooth Fairy.

As Paige, Pugh is absolutely luminous (despite being, you know, pale and Goth), and she absolutely carries the film, from start to finish. What the character lacks in couth and refinement, Pugh makes up for with charisma and an utterly demanding presence. Those who only know her (if at all) from her bit part in Liam Neeson’s The Commuter or as the queen consort in Netflix’s Outlaw King are in for a treat. And Pugh herself is in for a lengthy, head-turning career.

You don’t need to be a fan of wrestling to enjoy and appreciate Fighting with My Family, any more than you need to like boxing to get Rocky or know what a rebound is to love Hoosiers. It’s a universal story, and Merchant brings it like a double suplex off the top rope. So to speak.

Rating

4/5 stars

'Fighting with My Family' trailer

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)