Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh) and her family are obsessed with wrestling. The entire family perform in a wrestling show that they set up themselves and by day they have a wrestling school where Soraya’s brother, Zak (Jack Lowden) teaches people how to wrestle. Then one day the family receive a phone call from WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) saying that they want Zak and Saraya to come down to London so they can audition to become part of their show.
The siblings are extremely excited as this has been their dream since they were kids but after a gruelling audition process, Saraya is picked to follow her dream and Zak is not. After some encouragement from her brother, Saraya heads off to California, the family are elated but Zak doesn’t deal with his sister’s success as he initially lets her believe.
Fighting with My Family is a funny and uplifting British underdog story that will win over wrestling and non-wrestling fans alike. The underdog sports movie has been done many times before but the audience soon starts rooting for Saraya as they believe in her passion which is in no small part thanks to Pugh’s heartfelt performance.
As the movie progresses it brings up issues such as body image, sibling rivalry and what it means to be a woman in the public eye, so even if wrestling is not your thing there may be something in the movie that strikes a chord. Saraya’s eventual and inevitable triumph is only heightened by not only winning a place over her peers but by being accepted – by her peers, by Soraya accepting them and most importantly accepting herself.
The movie is a pretty straightforward telling of a sports story that has been seen many times before so the formula will leave no surprises as to how the story goes. However, its unique take on the genre and the British sensibility and humour sets it apart from other movies with the same themes. It also features the most British pub fight scene I have probably ever seen.
The supporting cast are all great including Nick Frost as Saraya’s dad who puts in a fine performance which is as touching as it is comedic. Jack Lowden also has the difficulty of showing the inner turmoil over his sister’s success but he manages to never make the audience hate him as he wallows in his self-pity.
If I were to make any criticism though, it would be that the times where Saraya feels upset feel a little on the nose and I feel perhaps the real Saraya wouldn’t have spent as much time crying in her bedroom. In the end though, Fighting with My Family is an unlikely hit from the most unlikely of sources (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Stephen Merchant). Its unique angle is just the thing that lifts it above the comedy sports genre and opens up wrestling to an audience who may have never been interested in neither sports no wrestling before.
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