Movie Review: 'Fighting With My Family'

Feb 28, 2019

Ok, now that awards season is over, we can finally have a little fun. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Oscars and all that, but sometimes it can get a little too serious. And what better way to let loose than with a little… pro wrestling?

Fighting With My Family tells the true story of a young woman in her late teens in Norwich, England, who grew up in a family that created its own semi-pro wrestling league, in which she wrestled with her brother, her mother, and whoever else joined up. The woman, named Saraya, or Britani, or Paige, depending on the context, eventually got a tryout with the WWE and went on to fame and fortune. I lost track of wrestling when I was about 12, so I’d never heard of her, but apparently she’s a pretty big deal.

The movie’s written and directed by Stephen Merchant, a British comedian who worked on a number of major projects with Ricky Gervais, including creating “The Office” and the HBO series “Extras.” And frankly, since the two of them went their separate professional ways, it’s clear which of them is the real talent. This movie is definitely funny, but it also has an emotional heft I didn’t expect, dealing with insecurities, the devastation of broken dreams, and the weight of expectations.

Pro wrestling inherently brings compelling drama with it, probably because the wrestlers themselves are such accomplished entertainers, the writers of the sport’s storylines are so skilled at creating intriguing soap operas, and there’s real danger in what the wrestlers are doing to their bodies, no matter how fixed the fights are. And that carries over to this movie—it’s consistently engaging, and if you don’t already know the story, there’s plenty of suspense. Yeah, Fighting With My Family is full of sports movie clichés, but that’s pretty unavoidable given that it’s mostly what actually happened and also, well, pro wrestling is scripted.

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