FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY

★★★★

A SOAP OPERA IN SPANDEX

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Chris dos Santos
28th February 2019

‘Fighting With my Family’ tells the true story of the Bevis family, whose one soul passion is wrestling - more specifically, the WWE. When an opportunity comes up to be a part of the global phenomenon, Saraya “Paige” (Florence Pugh, ‘Lady Macbeth’, ‘The Commuter’) and her brother Zak “Zodiac” (Jack Lowden, ‘Dunkirk’, ‘Mary Queen of Scots’) dreams are starting to come true - but when only one makes the cut, drama builds between them.

First off, I have to say that the cast is phenomenal; they are all giving 110%, and not just comedically. Florence Pugh is giving it her all, really make you feel her struggle and passion simultaneously, and Jack Lowden - wow, he doesn’t make the cut for WWE and goes through a big emotional arc in the film, not only dealing with missing out on his dream but also becoming a father and struggling to provide for his new family. You will be holding back tears.

Outside of the two leads, there is fantastic supporting cast in Nick Frost (‘Shaun of the Dead’, ‘Tomb Raider’) and Lena Headey (‘300’, ‘The Purge’) who play their parents and of course they are hilarious, but also their love for each and their children bounces off the screen. It's extremely refreshing having both parents not only love each other, but supporting their kids in a biopic. There is a great scene towards the beginning where all four of them are in the ring, and the way they are all working together is just beautiful. Vince Vaughn (‘DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story’, ‘Hacksaw Ridge’) is just this badass training coach and every time he is on screen you’re just filled with joy, even if his character is completely fictional. Of course, the man himself, Dwayne Johnson (‘Moana’, ‘The Fast and the Furious’ franchise) makes an extended cameo in the film; that man is just a big ball of charisma and he isn’t hiding that here, plus we get a few fun nods to the ‘Fast' franchise. Additionally, Stephen Merchant (‘Logan’, ‘Table 19’) and Julia Davis (‘Love Actually’, ‘Phantom Thread’) play Zak’s girlfriend's parents and again they are just hilarious, not understanding what WWE even is.

'FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY' TRAILER

As someone who is much more familiar with the personas of WWE as opposed to the sport itself, the film did a really good job of not being too fan servicey - of course, they mention other wresters and even feature some cameos, but it was never forced, feeling natural and not polarising to audience members unfamiliar with it. A great compliment to the film is the fact that it plays so well to so many different types of audiences. Having said that, I think a lot of WWE fans are going to get a huge kick of this film, and it will certainly open those nostalgia floodgates. As WWE media goes, this film is leaps and bound better than the direct-to-DVD Hannah Barbara crossovers (there are way too many of these including a Surf’s Up one, who are they for?).

Stephen Merchant directed and wrote the film and he does such a fantastic job, the filmmaking is never lazy. Everything is filmed in a way that’s creative, and while filled with jokes, the script is extremely heartfelt. Though it does use clichés of the sport, the film constantly feels fresh and new, never tired like so many modern biopics do.

We all have that one sports biopic (even if we hate sport) that we just love - ‘Cool Runnings’, ‘Eddie the Eagle’ or even ‘I, Tonya’ - since the underdog story is something that everyone can relate to. While it often feels tried and done, ‘Fighting With my Family' makes it feel fresh once again.

The world of the film is so rich and full of life. Merchant has brought small low-class Norwich, England to life. The film takes about 40 minutes before we even get into Paige’s journey with WWE, and you never feel like you’re waiting for the film to get there because that first half is filled with so much world building. From the local wrestling ring to the family dynamic, there is never a missed opportunity to make you feel a part of this town.

We all have that one sports biopic (even if we hate sport) that we just love - ‘Cool Runnings’, ‘Eddie the Eagle’ or even ‘I, Tonya’ - since the underdog story is something that everyone can relate to. While it often feels tried and done, ‘Fighting With my Family' makes it feel fresh once again, and while it might have some huge inaccuracies, it makes up for it with its talent cast and hilarious and heartwarming script.

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