by Hans A. Carpenter
Release Date: February 22
Director: Stephen Merchant
Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Lowden, and Nick Frost
Mister Marquee Says: Mid Carder
Saraya, WWE’s “Paige” (Florence Pugh), is a teenager who wrestles with her family. Her parents, Ricky and Saraya Knight (Nick Frost and Lena Headey), and brother, Zak (Jack Lowden), run an independent wrestling promotion in England, and Zak trains local kids at the family’s wrestling school. When Paige and Zak are invited to try out for WWE, everything changes for the family.
It’s hard for me as a massive wrestling fan to divorce myself from the fictional movie and the real occurrences. Little things like Paige walking out to cut a promo and freezing up during an in-ring segment I watched on live TV and vividly remember (she actually acted naturally and didn’t freeze up) just bother me. Add to that the near sickening amount of WWE branding on par with The Internship (it’s basically a feature length WWE advertisement the same way that film was a Google love fest), and it does drag down my enjoyment a bit.
Still, putting my impartial hat on, other than the glaring branding, Fighting with my Family is a good movie. Florence Pugh is fantastic in the lead role, and she has great chemistry with Jack Lowden who gives a great performance as well. Veterans Nick Frost and Lena Headey are perfectly cast as well, and in a movie called Fighting with My Family, it would be pretty hard to get away with bad chemistry between the Knight clan. It’s sad to think just how early Paige’s wrestling career was ultimately cut short, as she suffered a neck injury just a couple years after the events of this movie and is now retired in her early 20s. I do wish the film had made more of an effort to call into question the morality of the Knights using their kids from a young age in the family business. Now, if they owned a grocery store, whatever. But we’re talking about wrestling here, an extremely dangerous profession that has left many of its biggest stars paralyzed or dead young. Paige wrestled from 13. Her brother, as stated in the movie, wrestled from age three. It just…it just doesn’t feel as sunshine and rainbows as the movie makes it out to be. That being said, the tendency to sweep the uncomfortable moral questions under the rug is nothing new for biopics, especially in the “person does something against the odds” genre. It’s a bit of a stretch, but director Stephen Merchant and his excellent cast do manage to keep up the illusion. This is a fun movie.