If you're on this site and reading this review, Hi, welcome. I'm going to assume that you're a wrestling fan and are somewhat familiar with the story of Paige. You've at least heard of her and are very angry that she is no longer the SmackDown General Manager despite being the most competent authority figure ever. If you're not so familiar with Paige and you've stumbled upon this review by some magical google force, stay awhile.
Let me start by saying that this is a movie. Duh, right? What I mean is that, they can label it as a "true story" all they want but anyone with the WWE Network can rewatch what actually happened in the final scene of "Fighting With My Family" and throw the red flag. It's a true story in the sense that this movie tells a story and there is some truth in it.
But it's a movie designed to appeal to the masses. Not the less than three million viewers who watch Raw every week. You want that wrestling movie? Go watch "Ready to Rumble."
The story of Paige (Florence Pugh) is that she prefers "Charmed" over WWE but wrestling is in her blood and witchcraft is not. She begins wrestling at age 13 alongside her brother Zak (Jack Lowden), mother Saraya (Lena Headey) and father Ricky (Nick Frost) in her family's World Association of Wrestling. The ultimate goal is for Zak and Paige to one day make it to WWE and become big stars.
As fans know, Paige makes it. Zak does not.
And this is where the story shines. Florence Pugh is great in her role and captures the essence of Paige and her struggle as an outcast in NXT and her relationship with her family as best she can. But Jack Lowden steals every scene he's in, even when he doesn't have much to say. You can feel the passion and heartbreak from him and the character. The guy who wanted to be a WWE superstar even more than his sister, but the one who failed while his sister flourished and then wanted to throw it away.
On the surface, "Fighting With My Family" is a rather cliche underdog sports movie. The "unattractive" girl next to three blonde models overcomes social stereotypes and anxiety to become a WWE champion. It's a (sort of) real story and it's a story you can get behind throughout the film. But the final scene really hammers it home in a way that if you didn't get it at first, you definitely got it when the credits start to roll.
But everything leading up to the final scene is top notch and felt authentic. Paige's struggle to fit in and self-doubt. Her family pushing, almost using her as their meal ticket. Her brother struggling with his sisters' success despite teaching her everything he knows. A trainer pushing her to her limit and nearly forcing her to quit. There are all elements of truth -- some elements more real than others -- in all of those things and all of it is captured nicely in "Fighting With My Family." And it's what saves it from being another run of the mill sports movie with the same tired message.
The movie truly delivers when its focus is on Paige and her fight with her family, not her fight with being the underdog because of her looks.
Wrestling fans will enjoy 4/5ths of the movie. The final scene, as much as I hated almost everything about it, does not take away from how good the rest of the movie is. But as a wrestling fan who knows the "true" part of the true story, I have to knock the way they twisted Paige's debut on Raw to make it something it wasn't. Because it was already pretty special. It just wasn't "movie" special, I guess.
If you're just wondering if you should spend your time and money on "Fighting With My Family," my answer is yes. There are plenty of laughs, a few tears, and some standout performances. You know the cast delivers when Lena Headey turns in the "worst" performance of the four Knight family members.
Go see "Fighting With My Family." Vince Vaughn makes you forget about his time on "True Detective," The Rock gets to be The Rock and I can't say enough good things about Pugh and Lowden. Just walk out of the theater before Paige is about to walk down to the ring.