Based on a true story, Fighting with My Family depicts the rise of professional wrestler Paige (Florence Pugh), from her time growing up in a family of wrestlers in Norwich, England, to enduring the WWE’s strenuous training program and its gruff recruiter, Hutch Morgan (Vince Vaughn).
Written and directed by Stephen Merchant, Fighting with My Family is a comedy-drama that is deserving of its genre. Capable of delivering genuine laughs and a healthy amount of family dramatics, this movie was a pure and surprising delight to see. To cohesively blend both comedy and drama into one entertaining story is a challenging task, but Fighting with My Family pulls it off with ease. One minute the movie has you busting a gut at its brilliant tongue-in-cheek jabs at the wrestling world, and the next it’s tugging at your heartstrings as you find yourself rooting for Paige and her family to fulfill their dreams of superstardom. I can honestly say that this was one of the most earnest and legitimately uplifting movies that I’ve seen recently, making for a viewing experience that was both extremely fun and wildly inspirational. The back and forth between the lighthearted and serious tones not only keep the movie fresh and interesting, but keeps the audience on their toes as well.
Pugh is the star of this movie in every sense of the term. As lead actress, she carries the film with a spectacular combination of boundless wit and ferocious charm, completely nailing every scene she’s in. Pugh is undoubtedly a star on the rise who is guaranteed continued leading lady roles in the latter half of 2019. Pugh is in good company as she’s joined by an exceptional supporting cast that includes Lena Headey, Nick Frost, and an extended cameo from Dwayne Johnson. In keeping with the movie’s theme of perfectly dividing its time between comedy and drama, each actor gets to dip their toes in both worlds. Everyone is at the top of their game, giving hilariously heartfelt performances that are easily the best work they’ve done in years. Rounding out the stellar cast is Vaughn who honestly makes a very strong case for Best Supporting Actor – Musical or Comedy – at the 2020 Golden Globes. Vaughn reaches a level of comedic excellence that hasn’t been witnessed since the early 2000s. Coupled with a sweet subtlety that adds an emotional weight to every scene he’s in, and you’ve got the best part of this movie. Aside from Pugh who, again, is phenomenal. It bears repeating.
Whether you’re a sports fan or not, I encourage you to take a chance on Fighting with My Family. Honestly, the best comparison I can make is to The Blind Side. Although it’s a movie that on the surface is all about the strength it takes to become a sports superstar, it’s actually about the strength of a family and the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity. I challenge any sports-hater (of which I admit to being one) to see this movie and not be won over by the sheer joy it elicits. Seriously, in this entire movie, the only thing I disliked were the multiple questionable wigs. Everything else was perfection.
Universal Pictures releases Fighting with My Family on Friday, February 22, 2019
[Review by Luke Elisio]