Based on a true story, Fighting with My Family is a delightfully funny movie. It has all the right moves and will have you cheering for the underdog in this dazzling encounter.
The story revolves around the antics of a famous wrestling family from Norwich, England. It concentrates on their teenage daughter Raya, played by a plucky Florence Pugh.
Changing her name to Paige, she made headlines when she became the youngest WWE Diva in the history of this popular American sports enterprise. How she got there is the essence of a plot that is far stranger than fiction.
Pugh gives her character the charisma to anchor a film that also showcases top British talent. A bulky Nick Frost and Lena Headey play Paige’s parents, and Jack Lowden, is her devoted older brother, Zak.
American Vince Vaughn plays the crusty-but-caring coach who puts the wrestling hopefuls through their paces and is solid as a rock. And talking of rock there is also a cameo appearance by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a true-blue wrestling giant who also serves as co-producer.
Frost and Headey make a winning pair. He’s an ex-con who did eight years (“mostly for violence, but there was some robbery, too”) while she was an addict with thoughts of ending it all. They found their salvation through their mutual love of wrestling.
The journey of self-discovery begins in London when Paige, who had been wrestling from a young age, is accepted to attend a tough boot camp in Florida. She then has to make some hard choices that will affect her life.
While her dream is slowly coming true, she is upset that Zak did not make it. He did not have that special spark.
Writer-director Stephen Merchant floors us. He adds so many amusing and touching moments to his screenplay, as well as being a commanding presence behind the camera, that he cannot fail to win over the crowd. He also puts in a short appearance in front of the camera and is rather funny.
The tough-love training sequences in Florida may have been lifted from An Officer and a Gentleman, but they work splendidly. So do the passionate speeches delivered by the coach.
It is inspired by the true-life Bevis family (renamed the Knight family), chronicled in a 2012 documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family.
This is a cheeky but never condescending tale of a “chin-up” working-class British family.
Cast: Florence Pugh, Nick Frost, Lena Headey, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn
Director: Stephen Merchant
Classification: 13 DIATLV