Plot: Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh) has had a singular dream for as long as she can remember, to be a world champion on the largest stage in professional wrestling, World Wrestling Entertainment. This might seem like a pipe dream to some, but Saraya has grown up around the business her entire life, as her parents were wrestlers and her father runs a local promotion. So she and her brother Zak (Jack Lowden) have always been involved in some way or another and over the years, both have turned into impressive performers. When their persistence finally pays off and both are given a tryout with WWE, Saraya manages to make a big impression and is the only one from the field to be offered a contract. Now she heads off to the feeder league to train, while Zak has to face the realities of rejection. Can he make peace with how things turned out and can Saraya endure the intense training, social pressures, and internal doubts or will she be broken by the harsh process?
Entertainment Value: This is one of those cases where truth is indeed stranger than fiction, as the Knight family has endless stories and drama, so it makes sense it would be turned into a movie at some point. Fighting with My Family touches on the entire family and their various quirks, but the real focus is on Saraya, who would become Paige, and her brother Zak. Paige gets the lion’s share of the attention in the narrative, but I did appreciate how Zak’s arc was given time to flesh out as well, as his story was a crucial one as well. Paige’s story is a perfect fit for a movie, as it seems like one of those underdog tales that are too good to be true, but I wish a little more time was spent on her family, as there is so much potential there. But the movie does give them some scenes to shine in and the film captures the strong bond of the family, as well as the drama and quirks involved. The emphasis is on Paige’s fight to make her dream come true, so fans of underdog stories and pro wrestling will be most interested, but it is also a feel good type narrative that has broad appeal. So even if you’re not a wrestling fan, you might find a lot to like with Fighting with My Family.
I liked the movie overall, but I do feel like the weakest part of the film is Florence Pugh, who plays the lead role of Paige. These biopics often feature actors with more presence and charisma than the real life counterparts, but the opposite winds up true in the case of Fighting with My Family. Pugh is a capable performer, but the actual Paige is so much more charismatic and electric, you can’t help but pay attention to her. This won’t be an issue for those unfamiliar with the real life elements, but for wrestling fans, Pugh’s take on Paige will likely fall flat. She also doesn’t have the signature look down, but that is easier to overlook than the absence of Paige’s magnetic presence. Nick Frost and Lena Headey turn in dialed up performances as Paige’s colorful parents, adding mostly comic relief, with some light emotional beats at times. The cast also includes Stephen Merchant, Vince Vaughn, The Rock, and Jack Lowden.