Fighting With My Family (2019)
A comedy-drama biopic about a young woman who becomes a professional wrestler and weathers the hardships of the industry.
- Solid directing by Stephen Merchant
- Exception character work by Florence Pugh, Jack Lowden, Nick Frost, and Vince Vaughn
- A story that really makes you care
- Not as much The Rock as the trailer lets on
- Ending leaves out some details
In the world of professional wrestling, the most interesting stories aren’t written by Vince McMahon and company. Instead, they come from the real-life stories that led wrestlers to their chosen career path.
And while her career was extremely short, one of the more interesting stories belongs to Saraya-Jade Bevis, or as she’s more commonly known, Paige. Her story is so interesting, in fact, that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson turned it into a feature film called Fighting With My Family.
In the history of wrestling films, good ones are few and far between, so I didn’t jump into this one with the highest of expectations. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how good the movie actually is.
One of the best things about Fighting With My Family is that it actually makes you care about the characters involved in the story. You want to see Paige and other members of her NXT class rise the ranks of professional wrestling. You want to see them get signed to the WWE.
Director and writer Stephen Merchant does a fantastic job of handling Paige’s life story in a way that’ll appeal to both wrestling and non-wrestling fans alike.
While it took me a little bit to get used to seeing Florence Pugh as Paige (there’s a resemblance there, but it’s not exactly like you’d confuse her with Paige if they were side-by-side), she’s convincing in the role, and by the end, I almost forgot that she isn’t actually Paige.
The rest of the cast delivers on their roles extremely well. The relationship between Paige and her brother (played by Jack Lowden) is a major ark through the movie, and Lowden really does a great job of portraying the pain that his character Zak is dealing with.
Two other standouts from the cast are Nick Frost as Paige’s father Ricky Knight, and Vince Vaughn as Hutch, the trainer in NXT. As you’d expect from Vaughn, his comedic timing is on point, and he delivers much of the comic relief to the film.
Interestingly, Hutch isn’t the real NXT trainer who worked with Paige, but rather he’s a combination of multiple trainers with whom Paige worked over her career. However, Vaughn is quite convincing in the role, and based on behind-the-scenes footage of actual NXT trainers in action, he provides a good glimpse into the way wrestlers in training are treated and how tough trainers are on them.
One of the primary issues I have with the movie is the ending. While the ending isn’t bad by any stretch, it does feel a bit rushed. As someone who followed the career of Paige as it was happening, there are quite a few details that are skipped.
Presumably, the reason these were skipped is that it makes the actual ending of the movie feel a little less special if they were included. Things didn’t actually happen as suddenly and out-of-the-blue as the movie would make it seem. Obviously, they’re going to take some liberties with the story, and the end result ended up being the same, but leaving these details out is something that might irk wrestling fans.
Another aspect that could be a negative for some is the involvement of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The poster and trailer would lead you to believe that he’ll be a major part of the movie, and while his role is critical towards the end of the film, he’s really only on-screen for about 10 minutes. If you’re going into this movie thinking you’re going to get a lot of The Rock, you might be upset, but it shouldn’t be a deal breaker as Paige and the other characters are well-acted and deserve the screen time they receive.
All in all, Fighting With My Family is a far better movie than it has any right to be. When you see a movie about the early career of a professional wrestler, it’s easy to dismiss it.
Even if you’ve never seen a wrestling event in your life, the feel-good story of Fighting With My Family is worth watching. Who knows, it might just turn you on to wrestling and introduce you to a whole new hobby!
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