It tells the true story of a wrestling family as they vent their spleens in the ring as well as in the home, with parents Ricky and Julia Knight (Nick Frost and Lena Headey), daughter Saraya (Florence Pugh – The Little Drummer Girl) and son Zak (Jack Lowden – Dunkirk), whose girlfriend Courtney’s (Hannah Rae) parents (Julia Davis and Stephen Merchant) are so straight-laced that they’ve never heard of WWE.
Zak and Saraya get a shot at the big-time, taking part in said WWE, at the try-outs in London when WWE Smackdown comes to the UK. It’s been well publicised in the trailer (along with the fact it’s a true life story) that while Zak doesn’t get in, Saraya does, so the film follows the wedge that’s driven between them.
Along the way, they meet Dwayne Johnson playing Dwayne Johnson as always, but this time he IS actually Dwayne Johnson – even though he’s only in two scenes – one early on, and one late on. Vince Vaughn is Saraya’s coach, Hutch Morgan, and he plays this more as a drama, but as Brawl In Cell Block 99 proved, he’s much more effective in drama roles, for me, than comedy ones. In fact, despite not being as high up in the promotion for this film as anyone else, he’s actually the best thing about this film. As such, I can’t wait to see Dragged Across Concrete when it’s out on Blu-ray later this year, as it didn’t do the multiplex rounds down my way. However, Ms Pugh does put in a decent performance, too.
There’s a few laughs along the way to keep it ticking along, such as when American women like Saraya’s accent – is meant to be from Norwich, but sounds more like Cornish – compliment her on sounding ‘like a Nazi in a movie’.
However, there’s an awful lot of lines where the punchline can be seen coming a mile off, and in one scene where the sibling angst kicks off in the ring, it feels more like The Simpsons season 6 episode, Lisa On Ice, where Bart and Lisa do the same on the ice rink, and the rest of it plays such a straight bat that you can guess exactly how things will turn out, and you’ll be right.
Any fighting violence is rather toned down so it can fit in a 12-certificate, but while it’s clearly aiming at being family viewing, it does throw in unnecessary mild language.
I wouldn’t fancy being a wrestler, myself. Yes, a lot of the stuff they do is scripted, but the human body is not meant to be thrown around like that, and I don’t want to be getting any more aches and pains than the human body already delivers as you get older.
Looking up the film’s detail online, you can see how they’ve glossed over certain portions of Saraya’s career, as well as fabricating one or two things, but then this is trying to tell a story and NOT be a documentary.
Overall, Fighting With My Family aims to be a crowd-pleaser, and it will please some crowds, but despite being based on a true story, it’s scripted in a lazy and contrived fashion, way too often.
The extras are as follows, but there’s not a huge amount here, and they’re pretty much a case of ‘watch once and forget’:
- Deleted and Extended scenes (9:16): Six of them, but none that particularly need to go back into the film.
- Gag Reel (2:42): The cast corpse while going through the lines.
- A Family’s Passion: A Making Of (8:53): A standard making-of with clips mixed in with chat from the cast and crew, with The Rock also adding (as he alights to in the film) that he also came from a wrestling family. The studio have made a big deal about him also being one of the ‘executive producers’ although that could mean anything from having significant involvement in making the film, to simply having a financial investment. Meanwhile, Florence Pugh also meets the real-life Saraya.
- Learning The Moves (3:18): You can figure out what happens here, and there’s also input from Tessa Blanchard, an American wrestler and also Ms Pugh’s stunt double.
- Audio description: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
- Audio commentary: from writer/director Stephen Merchant.
The main menu is just the same image as the packshot with everyone grinning inanely, and there’s some slight animation in the background of a crowd taking photos of them – from behind (!), well, there’s the camera flashes. anyway. Musically, it has a small piece of the score in the background.
Running time: 108 minutes
Released: July 1st 2019
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD-MA 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH
Format: 2.39:1 (Anamorphic Master Scope)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Stephen Merchant
Producers: Dany Garcia, Dwayne Johnson, Michael J Luisi, Stephen Merchant, Kevin Misher
Screenplay: Stephen Merchant
Music: Vik Sharma
Saraya Knight: Florence Pugh
Ricky Knight: Nick Frost
Himself: Dwayne Johnson
Julia Knight: Lena Headey
Zak Knight: Jack Lowden
Ellie: Olivia Bernstone
Hannah: Leah Harvey
Ez: Mohammad Amiri
Hutch: Vince Vaughn
Courtney: Hannah Rae
Daphne: Julia Davis
Hugh: Stephen Merchant
Young Zak: Thomas Whilley
Young Saraya: Tori Ross
Calum: Jack Gouldbourne
Union Jack: Elroy ‘Spoonface’ Powell
Madison: Ellie Gonsalves
Kirsten: Aqueela Zoll
Jeri-Lynn: Kimberly Matula
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.