Fighting With My Family movie review: A cheerfully ‘fixed’ wrestling dramedy

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FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY movie review is here. The biographical sports comedy-drama is based on the 2012 documentary THE WRESTLERS: FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY by director Max Fisher, depicting the WWE career of professional wrestler Paige. Starring Florence Pugh as Paige, along with Jack Lowden, Nick Frost, Lena Headey and Vince Vaughn. Releasing in India on April 05, 2019, the movie written and directed by Stephen Merchant has Dwayne Johnson in a special role and the executive producer as well. Let’s find out how close to ‘real’ in emotions is this reportedly 50th movie production by WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).

Immediate reaction when the end credits of FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY roll
As the end credit rolls and the real life Paige – Saraya-Jade Bevis makes an appearance, the triumph of Florence Pugh on silver screen playing Paige in writer, director, radio presenter, comedian and actor Stephen Merchant’s FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY gets real. An unusual slapstick that is an energetically funny emotional roller coaster, perhaps the best till date that adds glory to the WWE glory in a crowd pleasing family story.

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(Also read: Tennis Buddies (2019) movie review: Deuce)

Based on the true story of WWE Superstar Paige, the movie begins with an old wrestling footage of Dwayne Johnson as The Rock, young Jack (Thomas Whilley) is watching the footage and sister Saraya (Tori Ross – playing the young Saraya) interrupts with a demand to watch her favorite show and even switches the channel. A fight between the kids begins and amusingly their parents – former convict Ricky (Nick Frost) and Julia (Lena Headey), intervene but to correct the chokehold?!. Reason? This family is a family of wrestlers; they have their wrestling gym and own a weird wrestling league in their town in UK. Some wannabes are also given training on WWE type of wrestling and one of the trainees includes a blind boy Calum (Jack Gouldbourne), in this weird but pleasantly acceptable environment of fun, family bonding and hope, we see the siblings Saraya (Florence Pugh) and Zac (Jack Lowden) grow up. A once in a lifetime opportunity to enter the WWE league sees Paige earning the coveted spot leaving his brother Jack behind. Paige who has entertained the petty locals at her family’s wrestling league by fighting with her family now has to make a choice, WWE or family. Obviously, she opts for WWE but there is an unknown ‘reality’ behind the ‘fixed’ fights of WWE and the battle is not just in the ring, it’s beyond. How Paige battles with all the challenges to emerge as a champion and prove her caliber to the world and become an inspiration forms the crux of the story.

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The screenplay by writer director Stephen Merchant based on Max Fisher’s THE WRESTLERS: FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY, is never ashamed of being formulaic but it’s a crowd-pleaser beyond doubt with respect to WWE and its weird wrestling techniques which is a range and reason for its outstanding success across the globe. The relationship between Paige and her brother Zak who become famous after their video turns viral winning them an audition to enter WWE is handled by Merchant deftly. Paige family – The Knights is happy in its own world, a hilarious scene where The Knights meet the parents of Zac’s girlfriend Kirsten (Aqueela Zoll), that sees the writer director playing Kirsten’s dad is downright funny. The way The Knights are happy in what they are and what wrestling has given them, they have their own language and own choices, the confidence of The Knights when they are together caring a damn about what the world thinks about them, their bonding may appear surreal but it strikes the real chord. Brother Jack may have asked her sister to opt for WWE instead of family, the spot he dreamed as a kid. Jack is not a saint and the pain, aghast, frustration to overcome the hard reality that his dream is stolen by his own sister is uttered with real conviction by Merchant in his narration. Despite of its familiarities with sports saga, underdog tales, Merchant remarkably puts the movie in a unique slate – FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY is everything – an offbeat comedy, a unique underdog tale, an indie sports dramedy revolving fights that are ‘fixed’ but not fake stirring genuine emotions.

Florence Pugh as Paige wins your heart. Jack Lowden as Zak is commendable. Nick Frost as father is funny. Lena Headey as mother is fantastic. Vince Vaughn as the coach is brilliant. Dwayne Johnson makes his fans and audience in general happy with a ‘special’ appearance which is really ‘special’.

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Familiarity, glorification of WWE  

Final words
The spectacle of WWE has been a mix of glitz, glamour, power, muscles, its boastful, vivid, packed with dramas, role-playing, crowd frenzy, body slamming its sheer fun for its fans across. Believe it or not? FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY is able to showcase the ‘real’ picture of these ‘fixed’ but not fake fights. It’s a not a cake walk for any wrestler, through Paige’s transformations, the audience becomes the witness of how she finds her connections, sees her roots, understands her brothers strength and overcome her weaknesses, it witty, funny and inspiring (It’s not about how to be the next someone you admire, it’s about how to be the first you).

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