Fighting with My Family: Film Review

I love Florence Pugh so I was keen to see her transforming into a WWE star for this comedy, written and directed by Stephen Merchant. I always had a positive feeling about it but it completely surpassed my expectations.

Pugh plays the real-life wrestler Saraya Bevis, who, under the stage name Paige, became the youngest-ever WWE Diva’s Champion at the age of 21, during her first match on the WWE’s main roster. The film takes some liberties with her story but basically shows us Paige’s beginnings in Norwich, England with her family of wrestlers – dad (Nick Frost), mum (Lena Headey) and brother Zak (Jack Lowden) – competing for WWE tryouts and going through the tough NXT stage – lead by Hutch Morgan (Vince Vaughn) – miles away from home in Florida.

We’ve all seen plenty off rags-to-riches biopics and the whole ‘triumph in the face of adversity’ theme is a well-worn one but I didn’t care about that because I loved Saraya, I loved the family, I loved her journey and most of all, Pugh’s portrayal of her.

Pugh proved she has acting chops with Lady Macbeth and it was a joy to see her doing something so radically different. She plays a sympathetic character and you really get behind her. At the end I was like ‘Come on girl!’ I also enjoyed her chemistry with Lowden – their brother-sister relationship was wonderful and so rarely seen onscreen. Frost and Headey brought the laughs as the cool, unconventional parents and Lowden brought the heart.

If you’re going into this thinking it stars Dwayne Johnson then you would be mistaken and disappointed. I get that he’s probably the reason this got made (he’s a producer) but the promotional material has been misleading about the size of his role. He is barely in it and his cameos kind of take you out of the story because it doesn’t make sense for him to be there – he never met Paige and their timelines don’t added up. He was a fun addition but I would have been fine without him.

Fighting with my Family is really funny and heartwarming and so much better than I expected. What a feel-good, delightful film!

In cinemas from Wednesday 27th February 

(Rating: 4/5)

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