Simon Dillon reviews this hugely enjoyably underdog story

Fighting With My Family

Writer/director Stephen Merchant's Fighting with My Family is the fact-based story of Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh), and how she and her brother pursued their dreams to join World Wrestling Entertainment. For the record: I have zero interest in wrestling and find it utterly absurd. Also for the record: Fighting with My Family is a funny, poignant, guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

When the film begins, Saraya and her brother Zak (Jack Lowden) make a living with their wrestling obsessed parents Ricky and Julia (Nick Frost and Lena Headey), performing at small venues and training local children in Norwich. This section of the film is particularly hilarious, and the screenplay effectively lays the groundwork for the drama that follows. Opportunity knocks, and the siblings head to London for WWE auditions with tough love WWE wrestling coach Hutch (Vince Vaughn).

Performances are all good, particularly from the wonderful Florence Pugh who is fast becoming one of my favourite actresses. Jack Lowden is equally good in a potentially tricky role. In addition to the fine turns from other cast members, Stephen Merchant has a small role, as does Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, playing an amusing send-up of himself with self-deprecating charm.

Admittedly the true story plot is largely predictable, but despite this the film is vastly entertaining. It doesn't simply explore the usual themes of following dreams and learning to be yourself, but also the price of dreams, and what happens when they turn out to be pipe dreams. This proves a particularly bitter pill for one character, who arguably has a more interesting and ironic story arc than Saraya.

In the end though, this is a raucously funny, shamelessly tear-jerking, hugely enjoyable underdog story, with heart and wisdom to spare. Fighting with My Family isn't going to test brain cells or change the course of film history, but you'll definitely feel better coming out of the cinema than when you went in. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.