First thing about Fighting with my Family is that you don’t need to like wrestling, or know anything about it, to find it fun. And it is fun. Writer-director Stephen Merchant sees to that with a sparky script and a slam-dunk cast. It’s based on the true-story of Paige Knight, the first British girl to break into the glitzy world of WWE - World Wrestling Entertainment – from the giddy heights of…
The Knight family – mum, dad, brother and sis – teach and perform wrestling in the low-rent backstreets of
Crammed with credible performances, Fighting with my Family skips over the potential pitfalls of cliché. It smacks you with its funny bone for sure. But best of all, it doesn’t pull its dramatic punches – and that’s its strongest move. Nick Frost and Lena Headey are suitably scuzzy and outrageous as the tattooed and potty-mouthed parents, scaring the socks off Zak’s would-be in-laws, and hankering for their own faded glory days. But it’s the relationship between Paige (feisty Florence Pugh, Lady Macbeth) and Zak (an outstanding Jack Lowden, Mary Queen of Scots) that gives the film its grit and good-heartedness.
Starting out as a Channel 4 documentary, the story goes that Dwayne Johnson saw the programme on TV while filming in the
You may sense how the movie will turn out – and you’d be right. But in getting there Merchant takes the roads less travelled, not saddling Paige with a love interest and pivoting the hinge-point of the film on quiet words from the least-expected source. And while Paige’s edgy bouts against a trio of glamour girls looks destined to end in friendships, it still plays out like a smack on the nose.
Add in a superb, layered turn by Vince Vaughn as the WWE promoter-cum-trainer and you have a film that fires on several cylinders. Yes, it’s a true-life fairy story about being yourself and finding your own way. But trite and twee this isn't. If it has a British film cousin, it’s Brassed Off which also did the light and the dark. But whereas that had a political vibe, Fighting with My Family is much more relatable and inclusive, doing what it says and rooting it in everyone’s family, wrapping it all up in a good-natured, well-choreographed smackdown of a film.