Mar 27, 2019
We’re continuing Certified Fresh cleanup with an unlikely film about entering the world of professional wrestling. Our good friend Garrett Wright of Two Views Movies will be up in a moment to raise his arms from the top turnbuckle before delivering a crushing elbow of a review. OH YEAH! Really shouldn’t be doing that recovering from a sore throat. For another film about wrestling, in the Greco-Roman style, check out our review for “First Match” (Episode #093). And if you have any suggestions, let us know at onemoviepunch.com or reach out over social media.
Take it away, Garrett!
Today’s movie is “Fighting with My Family”, the wrestling-based dramedy directed and written by Stephen Merchant. “Fighting with My Family” is the story of Paige, a girl born into a tight-knit wrestling family and who, along with her brother, is ecstatic when they get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try out for the WWE. But when only Paige earns a spot in the competitive training program, she must leave her loved ones behind and face this new cutthroat world alone. Paige’s journey pushes her to dig deep and ultimately prove to the world that what makes her different is the very thing that can make her a star.
All spoilers have been pinned for a 3-count so keep on listening.
WWE Studios has turned out some high-quality gems over the years such as “The Marine” and “12 Rounds” franchises, “The Chaperone”, and a host of other direct-to-video quality movies that were primarily created to serve as a vehicle for whichever WWE Superstar was hot at the time. So it was incredibly hard not be jaded about “Fighting With My Family” even after overwhelmingly positive reviews began to trickle in. The overarching question became “is this good for a WWE movie or is this actually a good movie overall?” Bolstered by a cast that feels genuine and writing that breathes life into each character while weaving them together in meaningful ways, the answer quickly becomes clear.
Writer and director Stephen Merchant is no stranger to nuanced stories that run the emotional gamut. Working with Ricky Gervais, Merchant has co-written several successful TV series including “The Office”, “Extras”, and “Life’s Too Short”. All of which feature similar down-to-Earth styles that explore the humanity of characters and the interconnectedness between them. This allows the film to have a much-needed emotional core. Merchant smartly recognizes that a film centered around wrestling runs the risk of feeling hollow and unappealing to a wide audience. But a film that focuses on the entire family that just so happens to be wrestlers, allows him to use his well-honed style to draw the audience into the story and make them emotionally invested.
Bringing the well-crafted script to life is a group of actors that quickly make you feel as though you’re watching a real family. While Florence Pugh’s performance as Paige is front and center for the entire movie, just as much credit should be given to Nick Frost, Lena Headey, and Jack Lowden. Frost and Headey’s turns as the oddball, off-kilter parents who started their kids in wrestling, afford the story equal moments of levity and heart. Lowden’s turn as Paige’s older brother Zack is dynamic — ranging from arrogant and driven to desperate and despondent. Though not a family member and even seeming to be simply playing himself, Vince Vaughn comes through as the tough trainer that puts the capstone of life lessons on those the family has already established. Together, all of them fuel the story of Paige that Pugh is able to channel onto the screen so well. In a role that is both physically and emotionally demanding, Pugh is the standout that will be talked about for many future roles.
“Fighting With My Family” is a fun, enjoyable movie that every member of your family can enjoy. From the physicality of the wrestling for your brother to the tale of female empowerment for your sister. From the heartwarming family relationships that moms will enjoy to the quirkily-funny dad moments that, well, your dad will enjoy. Oh yeah — and there’s that cameo by The Rock that everyone will enjoy. “Fighting With My Family” is easily the undisputed champion of movies made by WWE Studios. But, more importantly, it is actually a good movie overall.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92% (Certified Fresh)
One Movie Punch: 6.5/10
“Fighting with My Family” was released in theaters on February 22, 2019 and is rated PG-13.
Thanks for listening to my review here at One Movie Punch. If you like what you heard – or didn’t – reach out to me on Twitter at @TwoViewsGarrett and let me know. I’ll be back soon with more reviews on One Movie Punch, but you can always find me on the Two Views Movies podcast.
I will catch you next time.