Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn
Director: Stephen Merchant
Running Time: 108 mins
Fighting With My Family is a British/American film about the true story of the Knight family, and their humble beginnings from a local fascination with wrestling to their daughter’s journey to the top of the WWE.
With a genuinely impressive true story, coupled with good humour and heartwarming depth, Fighting With My Family is a surprisingly strong watch throughout, and one that can make you laugh and smile as well as properly touch you at times. It may not quite explore its most fascinating points in great detail, and occasionally comes up a little on the cheesy side, but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable watch regardless.
For a film that, at least from the outside, looks like a very light-hearted and even silly sports comedy, I was hugely surprised by just how much depth and drama there was to Fighting With My Family. Sure, it’s there to make you laugh, and that’s something it does rather well, but there is real emotion here too, and it’s generally presented in fascinating and often even inspiring fashion.
But let’s start on the lighter side of things, with the comedy. Mixing the styles of big Hollywood comedy and quirkier, smaller-scale British humour, the film has got a lot to laugh at right the way through, and with an all-star cast that includes the likes of Nick Frost, Lena Headey, Vince Vaughn and the odd appearance from Dwayne Johnson, there’s no shortage of energy and comedic talent on display here.
The film does well to balance its lighter side with what is often a properly dramatic story, and while there are elements of the film that stray towards darker emotions, its overall impression is a far brighter one, and with the strong comedy and enjoyable performances across the board, you’ll certainly come out of this movie feeling thoroughly entertained.
With that said, the most striking thing about Fighting With My Family is its genuinely incredible dramatic depth. While it’s not quite on the level of an Oscar-winning drama, this film doesn’t leave behind its emotional depth in its attempts to make you laugh, and through that excellent balancing act, it makes for both an enjoyable and genuinely enthralling watch.
The story follows the contrasting fortunes of a brother and sister in their dreams of becoming a pro-wrestler, and while the sister (Florence Pugh) finds her way to America to train for the opportunity of a lifetime, her brother (Jack Lowden) is rejected, and left to deal with the reality of never achieving his life ambition.
Those two sides of the story are distinct, and while the story set in America is often a little generic and cheesy – training montages and such – it’s the story of the brother and his reaction to seeing his dream thrown away in a split second, while his sister moves onto bigger and better things.
In that, the film doesn’t hold back when it comes to dealing with some genuinely dark and deep emotions, something that I was absolutely stunned to see. Unfortunately, it’s a side of the story that isn’t quite developed enough, in contrast to his sister’s story, which just isn’t quite as dramatically interesting or unique. As a result, it feels a shame and a bit of a missed opportunity that the film wasn’t quite brave enough to go deeper with this part of the story.
Of course, as a lighter, more inspiring movie, a greater focus on a much darker dramatic side would have led the film to feel a little too heavy-going. It’s a difficult balancing act that the movie generally gets right, but unfortunately comes up feeling a little unsatisfying given that it just doesn’t explore its most striking drama in more depth.
Overall, though, I had good fun with Fighting With My Family. An enjoyable, funny, heartwarming and often even inspiring movie, it’s a pleasant watch throughout, made all the more impressive by its genuinely stunning dramatic depth, even if it doesn’t explore its greatest emotion in real depth, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5.