Director: Stephen Merchant
Cast: Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost
Release Date: May 14, 2019
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
Born into a tight-knit wrestling family, Paige and her brother Zak are ecstatic when they get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try out for WWE. But when only Paige earns a spot in the competitive training program, she must leave her family and face this new, cut-throat world alone. Based on the incredible true story, this heartwarming comedy follows Paige as she proves that what makes her different is the very thing that can make her a star.
Inspired by the real life of WWE’s Paige, ‘Fighting With My Family’ tells the tale of how she came to be the star she is today. Raised into a family whose top priority was always wrestling, it’s nearly unbelievable when siblings Saraya (Pugh) and Zak (Loweden) Knight are invited to try out for the WWE, the biggest opportunity imaginable. But when only Saraya (aka Paige) is signed on, she must leave her home and family behind and journey to the States alone in the hope of making it big and becoming the next star of WWE. But sometimes it’s impossible to know what you might accomplish unless you’re willing to sacrifice everything and just give it your all.
Written and directed by Stephen Merchant (TV’s Extras, Hello Ladies) who does a wonderful job at the helm of ‘Fighting With My Family’ passionately guiding his own script along with humor and heart every step of the way. The film also owes a tremendous amount of credit to the perfectly selected and talented cast which includes Florence Pugh (The Commuter), Lena Headey (TV’s Game of Thrones), Nick Frost (Attack The Block), Jack Lowden (Dunkirk), Vince Vaughn (Dragged Across Concrete) and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (Skyscraper) along with more, nearly all providing great performances in each of their respective roles overall, with leading lady Pugh in particular offering a passionate and relatable portrayal of Paige that continually impresses.
‘Fighting With My Family’ is a surprisingly fantastic, moving and quite hilarious look into the world of wrestling that exudes a great deal of heart around every turn and will have no trouble pulling in those such as me who aren’t overly familiar with the wrestling world itself. Courtesy of its general approach and focus on family and personal struggles as much as that of the wrestling world it continually delivers, not to mention the engaging and consistently likable performance from young star Florence Pugh who does a fantastic job in her portrayal of Paige, while the competent guidance of director Stephen Merchant and his well-crafted script help tremendously to perfectly balance the fun. Always embracing a fairly upbeat and lighthearted approached, while still unafraid to tackle some heavier subject matter along the way when necessary, it comes together into a beautifully made and all around well-acted tale of fighting for a dream and what may occur on both ends of the outcome, as well as just how far you might be able to go if you stick with it and give it your all. I would strongly encourage anyone at all interested in ‘Fighting With My Family’ or even somewhat tempted to give it a shot to try and make a point of doing so, there’s an excellent chance that you’ll be thrilled you did.
Unfortunately for those curious about the two different editions of ‘Fighting With My Family’, I’m unable to provide much insight into any direct differences between the Director’s Cut and Theatrical Version of the film which are both included on the Blu-ray release, aside from the fact that the Director’s Cut curiously runs three seconds shorter than the Theatrical Version. While there were surely at least a couple changes made within, nothing present in the Director’s Cut seems to noticeably excel beyond the rules and limits of a PG-13 film and as I unfortunately didn’t have a chance to watch both versions in their entirety (only the Director’s Cut) I simply can’t confirm any differences other than their runtimes.
Overall, ‘Fighting With My Family is a wonderful and heartwarming look at one young woman’s journey to stardom. Touching, hilarious and perfectly suited to fans of wrestling as well as those largely unfamiliar with the world and its stars, it’s a powerful and massively entertaining film that’s further boosted by a talented and perfectly selected cast. ‘Fighting With My Family’ is definitely highly recommended, especially for fans of wrestling and WWE star Paige specifically who should only appreciate this one all the more. But don’t let your lack of knowledge about the content deter you if you’re even the slightest bit interested in the movie. As someone quite unfamiliar with the world it focuses on I can certainly confirm that no knowledge of wrestling is required in order to thoroughly appreciate and enjoy this film; and make no mistake, this is one impressive, moving and funny movie that’s well worth taking the time to check out.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Fighting With My Family’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio on both the Director’s Cut and Theatrical versions of the film. The video presentation looks outstanding as a whole and offers a clean, detailed and often quite colorful presentation from start to finish, with no noticeable faults or issues to be uncovered along the way. It holds up admirably even during the darkly lit, fast moving and heavily populated moments, never allowing anything occurring onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible at any point. Overall, this is a fantastic high definition video presentation that should easily please fans of the film and first time viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on both versions of the film. This multichannel soundtrack serves up a sharp, clean and occasionally quite aggressive audio presentation throughout. If frequently takes advantage of all five available channels in order to send music, crowd activity and plenty more throughout the various speakers whenever fitting, and never conflicting with any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously. Overall, this is a great 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that sounds consistently great and nicely compliments the onscreen fun.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Fighting With My Family’ includes a few notable extras that fans should enjoy. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Stephen Merchant’, in addition to some ‘Deleted and Extended Scenes’ from the movie (running approximately 9 minutes altogether) and a ‘Gag Reel’ (running approximately 3 minutes). The release also features a couple Behind the Scenes Featurettes including interviews/comments with members of the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more. The included Featurettes are: ‘A Family’s Passion: A Making Of’ (running approximately 9 minutes) and ‘Learning the Moves’ (approximately 3 minutes).