By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
You might have to twist my arm to get me to go see a professional wrestling match, but the new movie, “Fighting with My Family”
from director/writer Stephen Merchant (“Logan” and TV’s “The Office”) is an easy sell.
This quirky and bizarre comedy is co-executive produced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson” (“Rampage”) and he also stars in the film. It’s loosely based on the 2012 documentary, “The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family.”
The movie tells the unlikely story of English wrestler Saraya “Paige” Bevis, (Florence Pugh, “Malevolent”) who was one of the youngest female wrestlers to sign with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and she became a two-time Divas Champion.
It’s Paige’s weird family from Norwich England and their love of the sport, that brings this scrappy, underdog story to life.
Paige’s family is a real motley crew. Her blustering father Ricky (Nick Frost, TV’s “Into the Badlands”) used to rob banks for a living until he met and married Julia (Lena Headey, TV’s “Sally4Ever”) and she turned his life around.
Now, they run an amateur wrestling business. Paige and her older brother Zak (a terrific Jack Lowden, “Mary Queen of Scots” and “Dunkirk”) are the stars of the wrestling shows they hold to small and appreciative audiences.
They also train young kids how to wrestle. Their other brother Roy (James Burrows, “Safe House”) probably would be part of the mix, but he’s been in jail for a while.
Ricky and Julia believe Paige and Zak have the right stuff to become professional wrestlers. Zak has loved wrestling ever since he was three years old and could rattle off the names of every pro wrestler.
So, when they send a tape of their matches to the WWE and are invited to a try-out in London, they can’t believe that their lifelong dream is about to come true.
At least for Paige anyway. The WWE’s head trainer, Hutch (a funny Vince Vaughn, TV’s “F is for Family”) is a no-nonsense kind of guy. He’s seen all kinds of wrestlers and have sent many of them home in tears because they just aren’t superstar material.
Yet, he sees something special in Paige and gives her a shot to attend the WWE training academy in Florida, but Zak is given the boot. The poor guy can’t handle the rejection either. This was what he trained and lived for and now that dream is shattered.
Paige is reluctant to take the next step without Zak. Although he’s jealous as hell of her getting through, he convinces Paige that this is not only for her, but the family.
She agrees to do it and soon discovers it may be more work than it’s worth. Paige doesn’t look like the other gorgeous women—former cheerleaders and models--who are auditioning and she’s struggling to fit in. It doesn’t help that Hutch (Vaughn) rather sternly tells her she needs to quickly find her own identity.
It takes some grueling hard, physical work and self-inventory on her part, but once Paige does, she’s also able to find the courage to overcome her fears, make her family proud and most of all, prove she has the heart of a champion.
While Vaughn and “The Rock” provide much of the movie’s zippy, one-liners, Pugh holds her own here as well in and out of the ring. For the record, many of the film’s wrestling stunts were performed by pro wrestler Tessa Blanchard.
“Fighting with My Family” isn’t a knockout, but it’s still quite a draw.
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Take A Look At This Trailer For "FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The Alliance Of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.