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Fighting With My Family (dir. Merchant)

Image: Nick Frost, Lena Headey, and Florence Pugh © Photograph by Robert Viglasky. Property of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. [Source: IMDB]

★★☆☆☆

In a small town in the UK lives a dysfunctional family obsessed with wrestling and the WWE and with big dreams of making their way into the global WWE stage. Based on the true story of Paige and her family, we watch as she fights for a place on that stage.

Director: Stephen Merchant. Starring: Florence Pugh, Dwayne Johnson, Lena Headey, Vince Vaughn, Nick Frost [12A]

Ultimately Fighting With My Family is a Frankenstein of a movie. It’s as though all the elements and clichés of past chasing dreams stories and tales of people becoming athletes are all jumbled together then given a sleek lick a paint and pushed out into the world.

The result is less than convincing. Frustratingly this film lacks any real grit but it teases out just enough to get by. The relationship between the main character and her brother and the turmoil her brother gets put through is what could have really made this film stand out. What happens when you spend your whole life chasing something but ultimately don’t get it and are told you aren’t cut out for it? It sounds simple enough but that’s a hard reality to face, not everyone can achieve their dreams. Sadly the film only toys with this drama portraying it through dull and laughable clichés.

On the opposite, however, the main character’s story of chasing her dreams is told through tried methods but perhaps through the performance or the comedy of the supporting cast, it feels fun and certainly brings that entertainment factor. Thankfully Pugh has the chops to hold down the part and it wouldn’t be surprising to find yourself getting a little invested. The only slip in the direction is the chase of Paige is reduced to lifeless montage. It can certainly work and some of my favourite films out of the 80s and 90s use a montage to a razor-sharp cool degree but here is dull and quite evidently used as a short cut to see Paige’s journey. But what gets lost here is any sense that Paige had tremendous drive and worked to the bone to get to where she wanted to be. Instead, it’s a few quick cuts and it’s all a success story. A hollow victory.

It’s clear to see that Merchant is a much better writer than he is a director, able to bring a lot of laughs and character with ease but the style and tenacity lack visually. And despite the many clichés, its glossy glamorous view of Paige’s story – it is still a good time but fundamentally lacks what The Rock is cookin.

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