Tuesday, September 03, 2019

"Fighting With My Family": two-paragraph review

Trading on the linguistic ambiguity of the phrase "fighting with," which can mean "fighting alongside" as well as "fighting against," 2019's "Fighting With My Family" is a feel-good dramedy based on the true story of British WWE wrestler Paige, the youngest wrestler ever—at 21—to win the Divas Championship. The film is directed by Stephen Merchant and stars Nick Frost, Lena Headey, Jack Lowden, and Florence Pugh as the plucky Paige. The story focuses on the Knight family—a family of passionate wrestlers. Pat and Julia Knight (Frost and Headey) run a wrestling gym, but they're having trouble making ends meet. Their son and daughter Zak and Saraya (Lowden and Pugh) both have a lot of talent, and when the opportunity to audition for the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) suddenly rolls into Norwich, England (it's not "nor witch": pronounce it "nawrritch" or die), the two twenty-somethings give it their all in front of stern, abrasive American recruiter Hutch Morgan (Vince Vaughn). Saraya, who normally goes by "Britani Knight" in the ring, is told to change her stage name because the WWE already has a Britani. Saraya chooses Paige, the name of her favorite character from the TV show "Charmed." Paige makes the cut to go to training camp in the States; Zak is told to go back home. Crestfallen, he does so, returning to his girlfriend, who has just given birth, and to his young students at the gym, who all look up to him. The film follows Zak and Paige's lives as they deal with the pain of wrestling separately instead of as a family, as they had dreamed of doing. Paige has to deal with culture shock and some very mean co-trainees; Zak, meanwhile, has to swallow his pride and face his failure and self-loathing.

"Fighting With My Family" puts its greatest stress on family. All the characters in this story are flawed but well-meaning, and in the end, it's obvious how much they love each other and are willing to sacrifice for each other. The story is, ultimately, a heartwarming one about triumphing over seemingly insurmountable odds, turning enemies into friends, and never forgetting that your family has your back, even when you're thousands of miles away. Dwayne Johnson—The Rock himself—makes a couple crucial cameos, appearing as a sort of spirit-animal who helps Paige with her morale. Lena Headey proves surprisingly hilarious as wife/matriarch Julia; she dresses as tackily as Sharon Osbourne, but she has the heart of a lion and the wisdom of a sage. Nick Frost, whom I almost never see apart from Simon Pegg, gives a heartfelt performance as big, burly Pat. Jack Lowden, as son/brother Zak, looks eerily like a very young Simon Pegg, which may be why Nick Frost didn't seem so lonely. Seriously, though, Lowden gets arguably the most difficult role as the brother whose dreams have been crushed by rejection, and who must figure out a way forward now that he's a young father with no hope of ever joining the WWE. While I wouldn't call "Fighting With My Family" a tearjerker, it has some touching moments, and just like the boisterous working-class people it portrays, the movie's heart is in the right place, and the message it conveys, about the power of love and the bonds of family, is a good one.

No comments:

Post a Comment


All comments are subject to approval before they are published, so they will not appear immediately. Comments should be civil, relevant, and substantive. Anonymous comments are not allowed and will be unceremoniously deleted. For more on my comments policy, please see this entry on my other blog.

AND A NEW RULE (per this post): comments critical of Trump's lying must include criticism of Biden's lying on a one-for-one basis! Failure to be balanced means your comment will not be published.