Fighting With My Family is written and directed by Stephen Merchant and follows the true story of Paige (played by Florence Pugh), a wrestler who ascended to the top of WWE, as well as the activities of her dysfunctional family. As a big wrestling fan, I was quite looking forward to this film and was interested to see how the story would be told. Although I did enjoy it, I don’t think I’ll be rushing back to watch it again anytime soon. Here’s why…
Fighting With My Family certainly has heart, and it is quite funny in places. But unfortunately, it’s one of the most cliché movies I’ve ever seen. Whether you know the true story or not, you know exactly how everything is going to go, there are zero surprises and there’s nothing fresh or original about this tale. Everything that happens from a dramatic standpoint is foreseeable from the outset, from the events that will occur to the structure in which they happen, I saw it all coming, this really took me out of the whole experience. I’m not talking about the true story stuff here either, I’m specifically referencing the things that were clearly added in for dramatic effect and never really happened, which leads me on to my second point:
I think people who don’t know the true story and aren’t necessarily big wrestling fans will enjoy this more than those that are, because this story is riddled with inconsistencies that just really bugged me. I understand that this is a film, and certain liberties need to be taken, but there are so many of them throughout this film that again, it took me out of the experience. Knowing that certain events never happened, seeing events that did happen being altered massively to the point that they’re unrecognisable when compared to the source material, it just bugged me. Many may not feel the same as I did, but for me, I think the true story is extremely interesting and having to cut it down to fit this story was a detriment, in my opinion. I was watching and thinking I would have far preferred this tale to be told as a TV series, so that it could be more loyal to the events that happened and cover far more than it did.
I’m being deliberately ambiguous here, because I don’t want to spoil the true story or the events of the film, because I definitely think many people will enjoy this a lot more than I did and I’d be interested to see if there is a divide between opinions of wrestling and non-wrestling fans.
There are plenty of positives too, however, this isn’t a bad film at all. Nick Frost is hilarious as the head of the family, Ricky Knight. Florence Pugh is fantastic as Paige and perfectly cast in my opinion, and I also really enjoyed Vince Vaughn as Hutch Morgan, a fictional NXT trainer, who really added some gravitas to the film. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is good in what little screentime he has, although he is rather pointless as well, it’s clear he’s just promoted here to sell tickets.
Overall, Fighting With My Family isn’t a bad film, it’s got plenty of heart and comedy that will keep you entertained. I just personally wanted more, and I feel that the creators took too many liberties with the true story in favour of dramatics and clichés, which is a shame. I appreciate that some changes needed to be made, but many to me felt needless and detrimental to the story and I think a part of the spark was lost, especially during the climax of the film which was terribly inaccurate and felt horribly rushed, by the end, I felt more disappointment than anything, which is a shame. But, I have no doubt many will enjoy it, and I think if you don’t know the true story then you’ll enjoy it a lot more than I did, I’ll still recommend seeing it despite the not-so-great score I’m about to give… Make your own mind up, let me know what you thought of it!
I give Fighting With My Family a 6.5/10.