REVIEW: ‘Fighting With My Family’ has Heart

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Fighting With My Family

It’s rare that wrestling fans get an insight to the lives of professional wrestlers and the journey they’ve taken to get where they are. You see these large than life athletes put on incredible matches every week but don’t really know what it means to be in that ring. With the rapid success that Paige had during her run in the WWE, it’s great to see that the world will get to see parts of her story as she started out in the company.

Fighting With My Family, written and directed by Stephen Merchant, is based on the Channel 4 documentary of the same name. It follows the lives of siblings Saraya “Paige” Bevis, played by Florence Pugh, and her brother Zak Bevis, played by Jack Lowden. It’s their dream to one day be two of the greatest pro wrestlers. When they get called to try out for WWE after sending tapes of their matches, Paige is the only one out the group of tryouts to be given a chance to advance.

Paige has to deal with the hardships of being a WWE Superstar and her brother deals with not being able to live out his dream of being in the WWE. The film also stars Lena Headey as Julia “Sweet Saraya” Bevis, Nick Frost as Patrick “Rowdy Ricky Knight” Bevis, Vince Vaughn as Hutch Morgan, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as himself.

Given the title of the film, one of the bigger themes of the movie is family. The film doesn’t hold anything back, giving the audience the feeling that this is a family who not only loves pro wrestling but is also very close. The pressure of being the best given that their parents are also wrestlers is palpable; it pulled me in to the movie even more. After Paige advances in her tryouts, the strain on the relationship she has with her brother is done very well. The devastation shown from Zak and the desire to persevere from Paige is one of the major elements that carries most of the movie.

Florence Pugh delivers an outstanding performance throughout the entire film. She’s the heart and soul of the movie and demonstrates her capacity to carry a role based on a real person. She perfectly embodies the personality and charisma of Paige. I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing Paige in a film.

More importantly, she plays the part of a pro wrestling fan extremely well. It wasn’t too much to the point where the audience could tell she was acting but it also wasn’t too little that it would seem bland. I found myself relating to her love of this sport. I would go as far as to say that watching Pugh throughout the film will surely encourage non-wrestling fans to watch some of Paige’s matches.

Even though this is meant to be Paige’s story, it doesn’t feel like that entirely. For one, it completely ignores her entire time in NXT and doesn’t even mention that she became the first NXT Women’s Champion. I remember watching that match and seeing her defeat Emma in the finals of the Inaugural Tournament. None of the trainers and people in charge of NXT like Triple H, Norman Smiley, Sara Del Rey, or the Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes are mentioned in the film. The roles of coaches are hence portrayed by Vaughn and Johnson’s characters.

None of Paige’s other cohort members like Bayley, Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair, or Emma appear in the film. However, it does make sense that not everything was included since it’s a 108-minute film. But given that it’s supposed to be her story, I would’ve expected a bit more on her journey throughout her days in NXT.

Not only that, but the ending of Fighting With My Family was completely changed from real life events. It shows her match against AJ Lee where Paige wins the Divas Championship, but it plays out differently. Maybe I’m being a bit too judgmental since I remember watching that match and being extremely excited to see her accomplish such a huge feat.

Even though some things were left out and events were changed, I was still able to enjoy the movie. New and old school fans will definitely love the aspects of pro wrestling and get a glimpse of the journey that Paige went through. The theme of family is portrayed very well by the entire main cast. It brings me joy that films like these will shine an even bigger light on pro wrestling and get more people to watch it.

Fighting With My Family will hit theaters on February 14th nationwide.

Fighting With My Family
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Even though some things were left out and events were changed, I was still able to enjoy the movie. New and old school fans will definitely love the aspects of pro wrestling and get a glimpse of the journey that Paige went through. The theme of family is portrayed very well by the entire main cast. It brings me joy that films like these will shine an even bigger light on pro wrestling and get more people to watch it.