Fighting with My Family (2019)



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Fighting with My Family follows Saraya Knight’s ascension as Paige into the WWE. Florence Pugh has had a busy year adding her portrayal of Saraya to a growing list of feature films. You can also catch her in Midsommar and Little Women. Jack Lowden plays Zak, Saraya’s brother, coach, mentor and biggest fan. The cast is rounded out by Lena Headey and Nick Frost as the wrestling Phanatic and gym owning parents, Julia and Ricky. Dwayne, The Rock, Johnson and Vince Vaugh add a bit of American flair as the spiritual guide and the corporate face of the WWE respectively.


This movie was created out of WWE studios to try and expand an ever-growing footprint for the brand. This was a perfect debut for the studio and accomplished everything it set out to achieve. I am not a wrestling fan, but this movie has got me thinking about watching a match.


Saraya is an outcast but finds confidence through wrestling. It is the focus of her family’s livelihood as they run a gym and a local league. Zak has a borderline irrational devotion to the sport and defaults into being the best coach Saraya could ask for. His attention to detail and insistence on getting everything right lead to Saraya’s success.


The story wouldn’t be compelling if there wasn’t conflict and drama. Zak feels slighted as his sister is selected to enter the WWE training program and stops supporting his sister. He turns away from his duties at the gym and starts a downward spiral destined to land him in prison. Meanwhile, Saraya struggles to fit in and get the support she needs in Florida and can’t get Zak to answer a single phone call.


Anyone with siblings can relate to the dynamics between Saraya and Zak. It doesn’t matter how tough you are on the outside, a brother or sister knows how to support you better than anyone else. That same source of support has also probably left you feeling alone on a few occasions. Only children may have felt the burden of their parent’s hopes and dreams on their own shoulders. Saraya and Zak both face interpersonal struggles on their own that everyone can relate to. Everyone has been an outsider or freak at one point in time, and that is what Paige, Saraya’s in-ring persona represents.


The movie is based on a true story that the WWE selected for this debut movie. I don’t think they could have selected a better story or cast. Nick Frost, Lena Headey, and Vince Vaughn take on minor roles to let Florence Pugh’s talents show. The chemistry between Pugh and Lowden was as good as any in Little Women.


Much like Ford v. Ferrari was not just for dads, Fighting with My Family is not just for wrestling fans. It may not be able to convert you into a paying subscriber of the WWE, but it will give you a new appreciation for the work that the athletes go through. Wrestling is full of drama and big personalities. Everyone is acting even when they are jumping from a 30-foot cage onto concrete to make another wrestler look good.

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©2019 by Sean Whitehurst