So it’s Wednesday, which means a lot of things. However, none of those things are more important than the discounted, $6 ticket night (formally $5 ticket night before Trump took office smh) at my local theater so I assumed my responsibility as the bargain-hunting degenerate I am and drove through.
As always, I don’t like explaining too much about a movie if it’s based on actual events because it alters the moviegoer experience, so for those of you unfamiliar with the subject matter, I’ll leave you with this: The film follows the story of Sayara Knight (famously known as “Paige”), a member of a tight-knit British wrestling family, as she attempts to capitalize on the opportunity of a lifetime and fulfill her dream of becoming a WWE superstar.
For those keeping score at home, I used to eat, sleep and breath wrestling during the late 90s/early 2000s. I’d spend nights in my basement, imitating the various personalities with couch cushions as landing pads and couch arms as top ropes. I had all the action figures, knew all the catchphrases, and would spend my Tuesday and Friday mornings waking up 4 AM to watch the previous night’s broadcast I taped on VHS before the bus would show up for school.
In other words, if the WWF/WWE was produced in a tangible form, I would’ve found a way to liquefy and inject it into my femoral vein (gross visual but true).
These days, I don’t follow it much; nevertheless, my opinion on the sport remains: if you’re someone who can’t grab a few beers and have fun at a wrestling event, you’re just someone I’ll never want to hang out with.
So yeah, it’s safe to say I was intrigued when I saw they were making a movie concerning the plight of a pro wrestler—something that, outside of 2008’s The Wrestler, hasn’t really been touched upon through the medium of film. The only problem with everything was that the trailer had the WWE logo plastered throughout and I couldn’t help but feel that this was just another corporate cash grab to gain further mainstream notoriety.
Well, I don’t want to reveal my hand too early or anything on this review but… I fucking LOVED it. One of the best comedies of the last decade, right up there with both Jump Streets, Bridesmaids, The Big Sick, and The Other Guys (which may be the most underrated comedy ever, by the way).
And the biggest takeaway from this movie is that you don’t need to share an infatuation with the sport to appreciate what it provides. With a film like Bohemian Rhapsody, you needed to be a fan of the subject matter to really enjoy the film; with Fighting With My Family, all you need is the ticket stub.
A lot of that reason is due to the sharp script of Stephen Merchant, who also served as the film’s director. For those unfamiliar, Merchant was a co-writer/director for the original, BBC version of The Office and that quick-witted, often cringeworthy style of dialogue is what classifies Fighting With My Family as a comedy; however, this film is so much more.
The only spoiler I’ll give concerning this movie is that The Rock is pretty much just a marketing cog. When it’s all said and done, Dwayne Johnson commands roughly 5-10 minutes of total screen time and that’s MORE than fine. Why? Because the rest of the cast proves more than capable of keeping you emotionally engaged.
Most notably, Nick Frost—most people in America know him as “the fat guy” from Shaun of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, both of which I highly suggest—was charming as hell while Jack Lowden (as Zak Knight, Sayara’s brother) gave the film a surprising level of emotional depth.
That said, the most refreshing performance came from the lead, Florence Pugh. I truly believed this film could’ve “worked” with a number of actresses, but for some reason, her casting just seemed “perfect.” It’s a shame this movie premiered when it did because movies in February/March normally tend to get snubbed during award season. I wholeheartedly believe she deserves at least an Oscar nod for this role, if not a win.
With all things considered, I’m not saying this movie is perfect. It’s certainly incredible cliche’. It slams you over the head with your typical underdog, rags-to-riches cinematic tropes but it does it in a remarkably charismatic way. If you love wrestling, you’ll love it; if you don’t, you won’t love it as much but you won’t regret the ticket purchase.
Final Score: 9.4 Boats out of 10
Disclaimer: This is the highest score I’ve given since I’ve been blogging these reviews and it will most likely drop a couple decimal points throughout the year, but as of right now, I’m not changing a thing. LOVED it…
– Joey Boats (@joey_boats)