Any movie that opens with The Rock’s entrance music is worthy of my attention. The Attitude Era remains the single greatest era in WWE history. The remarkable talents the industry had on the roster back then and the no-holds-barred feuds & storylines that unfolded week after week really made those who witnessed it live & on screen around the globe the blessed generation of spectators.
I started watching WWE (back then it was WWF) around 1997 when The Attitude Era actually kicked off but left after the Ruthless Aggression Era gave way to the PG one, only returning to it once a year every year for WrestleMania ever since. So I had no idea who Paige is and what made her stand out so much that they made a movie about her life.
On the latest roster, the only one who seems to have caught my eye is Becky Lynch, solely coz her charisma, flair & in-ring theatrics actually transcended the arena. There is no denying that women’s wrestling has improved exponentially in the past few years and it seems it all started after the arrival of Paige. But this film works just as well if you don’t know enough about her, or even WWE.
Fighting with My Family chronicles the life & career of professional wrestler Paige who grew up in Norwich, England in a wrestling fanatic family fully devoted to sports entertainment business. The plot covers her journey from being selected for tryouts to moving to America where she trains & learns the skills of the trade, and culminates with her historic debut on Monday Night Raw.
Directed by Stephen Merchant, the film is one hilarious ride but it also packs a lot of heart. The family may seem idiosyncratic but their bonding with each other has a genuine vibe to it. Add to that, it does a neat job of depicting the rite of passage every aspiring wrestler must go through and shows that just like any other sport, it requires nothing less than blood, toil, tears & sweat to make it to the big stage.
While the film captures how being selected for WWE could be a life-changing moment, it also glances at the other side where the life of the rejects can descent into a downward spiral, illustrating it so by focusing on the friction between Paige & her brother after the latter is not chosen despite being more passionate about the sport. It doesn’t come off as cheap, and the actors sell the animosity just as good as wrestlers sell their moves in the ring.
Florence Pugh plays the role of Saraya “Paige” Knight and delivers an outstanding performance by aptly articulating her emotions. Jack Lowden is in as her brother and shows his downward journey with a balanced input. Nick Frost & Lena Headey portray Paige’s parents and appear to be thoroughly enjoying their roles. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson gets back into his old skin with ease. And Vince Vaughn chips in with solid work in the role of a WWE trainer.
On an overall scale, Fighting with My Family is a finely crafted, properly narrated & wonderfully performed sports comedy that’s amusing, entertaining & moving in sufficient doses. Delivering the goods with plenty of heart, it may be nostalgic to some & inspiring to others but it is by all means a welcome & heartfelt tribute to all the wrestlers who continue to put their bodies on the line week after week just for the sake of entertaining us. A time well-spent, Fighting with My Family is worth a shot.