The original documentary “Fighting With My Family” was the stuff that underdog tales were made of, so when it was turned in to a feature film, it wasn’t too surprising. Stephen Merchant has a knack for creating very funny, human tales, and this adaptation does a good job of taking from the documentary and creating a very good adaptation of the story of Saraya, a young wrestling fanatic who would become Paige, one of the most influential female wrestlers and Superstars for the WWE.
Born into a tight-knit family of wrestling lovers and aspiring wrestlers, Paige and her brother Zak, two aspiring wrestlers, are ecstatic when they get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try out for WWE in America. But when only Paige earns a spot in the competitive training program, she must leave her family and her home country, and face this new, cut-throat world alone. Paige’s journey pushes her to dig deep, fight for her family, and ultimately prove to the world that what makes her different is the very thing that can make her a star.
Ultimately, Stephen Merchant manages to rise to the occasion and creates a sweet, funny, and often riveting drama comedy about a young insecure woman who carves herself in to an athlete. While the original documentary is waves superior and entertaining, “Fighting with My Family” is not without its merits. Along with the great writing and direction by Merchant, there’s a bang up cast, including Vince Vaughn in a charming role as a WWE trainer. The incomparable Nick Frost and Lena Headey are fantastic as Saraya’s blunt but passionate parents who take wrestling immensely seriously. There’s also a great walk on role by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who gets the most out of his small role, all the while Florence Pugh is absolutely adorable in the role of Saraya aka Paige.
Pugh has definite dramatic chops and pulls off a very convincing and compelling performance as the young wrestling fanatic destined to become a legend. “Fighting with My Family” works as a love letter to the WWE as well, exploring the hard work it takes to become a wrestler, and how the athletes push themselves to the edge. That said, some of the dramatic changes fall flat, and the way the narrative glosses over much of Paige’s journey to the WWE after training is pretty baffling. “Fighting with My Family,” nevertheless, is a simple, but entertaining comedy drama that features some great performances, and some solid laughs. I highly recommend watching the documentary as well.
Featured In the new release is a DVD Copy, and a Digital Copy, along with the Director’s Cut from Merchant. There’s a feature commentary by writer and director Stephen Merchant, a slew of Deleted and Extended scenes from the movie, and a gag reel. There’s “Learning the Moves,” a look at how the cast, crew, and pro wrestlers managed to learn the moves, and work together. Finally there’s “A Family’s Passion: A Making Of” a behind the scenes EPK with interviews with the cast and crew, the story of Paige and her family’s love for wrestling et al, and how they inspired the film. I wish they’d have included the original documentary in this release.