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.