Let’s get in the ring.
Fighting with My Family is the origin story of WWE superstar Paige (Florence Pugh) and shows how she comes from humble beginnings in England to overcome challenges on her road to stardom. We also get to see the internal struggles as her brother Zak (Jack Lowden) is not chosen and her parents Ricky and Julia (Nick Frost and Lena Headey) seem to want her fame more than she does.
The film, which was marketed as more of an offbeat comedy, struggles to maintain a clear identity throughout. Odd tonal shifts throughout cause a bit of confusion. We’ll have heated discussions, funny family dinners, and Zak becoming an absolute piece of garbage strewn together with no rhyme or reason.
When Paige and Zak both audition, and only Paige is chosen, Zak crashes, hard. He ends up nearly abandoning his family, picking fights, and being an all-around crap bag. As he flounders, so does Paige, who finds herself isolated in America (due to her own attitude) and isn’t sure if she can make it.
The fact that I have seen a movie before (just a couple) made investment into the story a bit hard. The draw of wrestling is something I don’t understand, and this film did little to make me appreciate it more. Instead, we end up with a predictable and corporate biopic where despite any challenges we know it is all going to turn out okay, and it does.
I suppose I should put a spoiler warning here.
Despite Paige not seeming to be the best at wrestling, she is constantly reminded that she has a “spark” or something that the other would-be stars don’t have. Despite a strong performance from Pugh (who has impressed me this year), I didn’t ever see what everyone else seemed to. Sure, part of this is due to my own indifference to wrestling, but I can only review this film as a biopic.
I wanted there to be more consequences. Zak attacks (and could have killed) his sister in an effort to show her up, and this is forgiven awfully quick. We also have him start a bar fight, which leads to nowhere. In the end, he learns his lesson (I guess the lesson is it is okay to be a shit-bag partner and father as long as you eventually turn it around) and nothing else really happens.
Paige becomes a star because everyone tells her she is a star… The rationale isn’t entirely clear to me here.
A lot of people liked this film. The acting is good, and everything paces well, but I just never engaged. Our dogs love to decide to go out when we watch a movie. This was the first time we didn’t bother pausing as one of us had to take them outside. When my wife or I returned each time the answer to what we missed was the same: nothing.
I think fans of biopics, and certainly fans of WWE will enjoy this one. My biggest gripe is that I was advertised a comedy and ended up with a heavy handed and somewhat slapdash story about outsiders.
As noted, this film is super popular. For fans of wrestling I’d say this is a must watch. When the film shows the familial passion and love for the sport is when it seems the most honest. While I still don’t understand the appeal, the fact that it seems to have been redemption for this family is pretty cool. In the end though, I’d rather have watched a documentary.