Dwayne Johnson was filming Furious 6 (2013) in the UK when he discovered the 2012 Channel 4 documentary "The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family" on TV in his hotel room about a crazy English family of wrestlers. The 'underdog' aspect of it instantly appealed to him, prompting him to contact British writer Stephen Merchant about developing the story into a feature-length biopic. Writer-director Merchant, who also plays Hugh in the film, is actually 2" taller than 'The Rock' with whom he'd earlier co-starred in Tooth Fairy (2010). See more »
Paige is seen as a young girl holding a homemade cardboard version of the WWE Divas title, however this title wasn't introduced until 2008, by which time Paige was 16. See more »
The scenes over the end credits come from the 2012 UK Channel 4 documentary 'The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family'. This is supposedly the documentary The Rock saw that got him interested in producing a film about Paige's story. See more »
Full disclosure first, I am a wrestling fan and I knew the majority of Paige's story and how the WWE and pro-wrestling works before seeing this.
The Knight family love professional wrestling. It has changed the lives of Julia (Lena Headey) and Ricky (Nick Frost) and their passion has transferred to their three children, particularly to their son Zak (Jack Lowden) and daughter Saraya (Florence Pugh). Having grown up performing for the families Norwich based federation, a shot at the big time comes when both children are asked to attend try-outs for World Wrestling Entertainment.
All that said, you don't really need to know anything about wrestling to enjoy "Fighting with My Family". It's a relatable story of someone from an unlikely background overcoming the odds to find success far from home. It's has a very British sense of humour, with lots of jokes with swearwords or about class differences, both between the Knights and Zak's prospective in-laws and between Paige and her peers once she's over in the performance centre. It probably has slightly too much swearing to be a real family film, but is still pretty gentle in its overall tone and themes. What makes the film successful is the performances of actors in the key roles. Frost and Headey are great, as is Florence Pugh, who continues to be a star on the rise after her performance in "Little Drummer Girl" last year. It's Jack Lowden, however, who has the most to do and excels with it, dealing with the disappointments and temptations that his life gives him as a parallel to his sisters.
That perhaps leads to me the films biggest weakness, despite how unlikely it seems, Paige's journey isn't perhaps that extraordinary. She's way more talented and experienced than any of her colleagues but struggles a bit to overcome her own awkwardness. It's not so much an emotional rollercoaster as it is a jittering ski lift. To combat that, we get the opposing journey of Zak which, if anything, is actually more interesting, as he struggles with fatherhood, disillusionment and jealously before coming to terms and reconciling with his family.
"Fighting with My Family" is an entertaining and funny film if a little slight and though I can't imagine it's going to be anybody's favourite film of all time, it's a lot of fun to watch and I'm sure would be enjoyed by anyone.
A little bonus if you are a fan of the UK wrestling scene from the past few years is spotting cameos from current stars. Dave Mastiff and Kip Sabian are two of the most obvious but there's a few more (and a dig a Pete Dunne which is funny, if slightly confusing).
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