So recently I was near a cinema in the hopes of seeing what was being showcased, and I came across one feature that I almost forgot was being shown. Not because it was badly promoted or anything, but because I am TERRIBLE at keeping with modern trends these days. (A statement I’m sure may come back to bite me if I apply for any cinema roles.)
Fighting With My Family, the new hit feature loosely based on the real-life story of WWE Women’s Superstar Paige and her real-life Wrestling Family, The Knights, is a new feature written and directed by Stephen Merchant, and produced in part by Kevin Misher, Michael J. Luisi, and Dwayne Johnson. Yes, you read right. THEE Dwayne Johnson or Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson or just ‘The Rock’ to all the wrestling fans who most likely went to see this film.
This feature was actually loosely based off of the same name documentary by Channel 4, ‘The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family”; just with more Hollywood like budget and story-telling. I won’t go spoiling anything major from the film, but if I do let something slip I apologise in advance and still recommend people see this movie, because to put it simply, I really enjoyed this film.
Shock horror, the pro wrestling trainee liked the wrestling based film. But it’s a little more than that because despite being billed as a comedy-drama flick, it actually wasn’t nowhere near as hockey as it could have been, it handled it’s humour in a much dried sense, dry humour is a jam. If you were thinking to take your young single digit kids to this one, maybe wait until they are older due to adult humour and sex references.
The cast did a brilliant job, credit to the casting team. The main cast contained Florence Pugh as Saraya “Paige” Bevis, Jack Lowden as Zak “Zodiac” Knight/Bevis, Nick Frost as Patrick “Rowdy Ricky Knight” Bevis, Lena Headey as Julia “Sweet Saraya Knight” Bevis and Vince Vaughn as Hutch Morgan. All portrayed believable and welcoming performances that we could get behind and even relate to in some of the more dramatic moments. The supporting cast all also did a fine job when they were featured, with Stephen Merchant himself getting involved in a cheeky little role.
Also knowing wrestling the way I do, it was hard not to see all the cameos and references placed in the film. The Rock of course being the first big name that had a much larger impact on the story. Then there was of course Thea Trinidad aka WWE SmackDown Star Zelina Vega who played the role of AJ Lee, both on-screen speaking and during the match choreography at the final moments. There was also small speaking cameos by WWE superstars Big Show and Sheamus. Heck, even current WWE/NXT UK star Dave Mastiff made a cameo during the try-out section of the film. There MAY have been more real life wrestlers featured, but those were the most noticeable ones that caught my eyes.
If you were incredible eagle eyed, you could see Tessa Blanchard as the stunt-double for Florence during the AJ/Paige match choreography. There was also some nods to references, such as some of the supporting female stars Kim Matula, Aqueela Zoll and Ellie Gonsalves wearing attire from past and current WWE names like Alexa Bliss, Eve Torres amongst others, and of course the massive amounts of real footage from past WWF/WWE moments from their archives.
Not everything was perfect of course, as the film took many liberties in cutting out and changing a lot of the journey of this film. The film indicating Paige was successful on her first tryout when in fact she actually failed her first and was accepted after a second one, The Rock’s appearance at the Tryout taping when he wasn’t even linked with the WWE at the time and of course Paige’s time at NXT being glossed over, forgetting about her time as the first ever NXT Women’s Champion and even her run in FCW before it’s closure for NXT.
AJ Lee’s interpretation also being much more glamourfied in her portrayal by Thea/Zelina and the match choreography of the AJ/Paige match being MUCH longer than the actual match from real life events and the crowd’s reaction being much different.
However all of these changes were done for the sake of keeping the core messages and overall story of the film, which makes sense and doesn’t take from anything, unless you are deliberately going into this film looking for all the facts. And if you do, then maybe don’t be a fan of films? Because you are guaranteed to maybe not enjoy the film and concentrate on the negatives rather than the countless positives.
Going back to positives, the landscape shots from around England, the different arena shots, the American scenes and some of the shots used while Pugh was in her apartment were beautifully shot and provided us with tonnes of character and colour. The music and score also fitted well to the overall settings of the film and an added little touch during the credits, no spoilers, is the inclusion of a few clips of the real life Knight Family from the documentary that this film was inspired by.
And in terms of looking at aspects from the professional wrestling world, it may be hard for me to say considering I am training in the art myself, but I thought what they did include was handled well and didn’t over explain things that would take away from the mechanics of the profession. Adding to this, as someone with mental diagnosis’s, I could feel the anxiety that Pugh displayed during some of the more tense and harsh moments of the film, something I know I will face even more as I develop in my training.
So, yeah, a fun flick that set out what it needed to in a respectable way. And one that I’m glad to hear has been doing so well in the UK screenings. So if you are even remotely interested in seeing this film or are on the fence before screenings stop, I’d definitely recommended it. It may not be the film of the year or anything to me personally, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.