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Review: Fighting With My Family

Fighting With My Family
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PLOT: Saraya Bevis (Florence Pugh) is raised to be a wrestler by her mom (Lena Headey) and dad (Nick Frost). When the WWE comes through town, she and her brother, Zak (Jack Lowden) get the opportunity to audition and make their dreams of stardom come true.

REVIEW: FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY was a late addition to the Sundance line-up, with it technically being a “surprise” screening, even though it was announced weeks ago. Likely, it was considered a bit too mainstream to be part of the official selection, making the surprise section, which previously hosted the premieres of EDDIE THE EAGLE, GET OUT and TULLY, so it’s a logical place for this to land.

Given the audience reception, MGM can rest assured, they’ve got a real crowdpleaser on their hands. Telling the story of Paige, who helped usher in the “women’s revolution” of WWE, this is a warm, affectionate sports comedy-drama, expertly executed by the great Stephen Merchant, who wouldn’t seem a logical fit for a wrestling film, but proves to be an inspired choice.

Florence Pugh, who’s been an up-and-comer for a while now, gets a prime opportunity to connect with a mass audience as Paige, with her bringing a lot of spunk and likability to the part. Most of the film revolves around her training, as she’s separated from her journeyman brother to get the star build-up, under the watchful eye of a hard-edged trainer, Hutch (Vince Vaughn), while her brother goes to pieces, knowing the stardom which once seemed within his grasp is never going to happen.

In some ways, FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY feels like a logical continuation of Merchant’s “Extras”, with both revolving around the sometimes fruitless pursuit of stardom, only to eventually discover that getting your big chance isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.

However, if you’re expecting a warts and all version of WWE, don’t kid yourself - this tows the company line. It’s shown to be a place where dreams come true, and the outcome of matches are never shown to be predetermined, a thing they tap-dance around.

Yet, they also acknowledge that the life of a wrestler isn’t an easy one, especially if you don’t have that secret sauce that makes a star, with Vaughn excellent as a former cad wrestler turned trainer, with him perfectly cast to type. Dwayne Johnson also shows up as himself, although his role is much smaller than you might think, with him limited to two relatively brief scenes, although clearly, this is a passion project for him, with him there for the Sundance premiere.

Indeed, it’s a fun, fast-paced film, although the focus is less on wrestling and more on Paige and her family, with Lena Headey and Nick Frost warm and funny as her parents, while Jack Lowden is very effective as Paige’s frustrated brother. Through it all though, it’s Pugh’s show, but she has the right attitude and spunk to be believable as the type of wrestler all involved can immediately see has star quality. FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY is a crowdpleaser that has the potential to be a solid sleeper hit, and it’s a tough movie not to fall for. Keep your eyes peeled for it - it’s a charmer.

Source: JoBlo.com

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