Now for a couple of reviews that will be focused upon film that were released earlier this year but I didn’t get a chance (or skipped it thinking it would be terrible) to see in theaters. While I knew that FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY got pretty damn good reviews, it currently sits at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, I didn’t see it really as a theatrical experience. I was right to make myself wait for video. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid movie showcasing the rise to stardom of WWE’s Paige, I figured that I probably wouldn’t have gotten anything more out of it from seeing it on a giant screen (I confess, I watched this on my phone…but on an official HD Streaming Platform). I think it is the best movie about wrestling there is….wait, I mean, are there really many? The only other one I can think of is Ready 2 Rumble with David Arquette, which is a guilty pleasure for me. But the movie did what it set out to do, where as the whole who wins, who loses, choreography, script, etc, etc in wrestling is fake, it in actuality is a lot of work (both mentally and physically) on an individual, and really hard to get into professionally.
Paige actually doesn’t star in this herself (kind of surprising since she is only 3 years older than the actress who plays her and doesn’t she act anyway in the WWE?), so they got a sort of not really familiar face in Florence Pugh. You probably have no idea who this actress is, but I do, and I know she’s been having a helluva 2019 so far. She has this, Midsommar, and the upcoming Oscar bait Little Women, last year she had numerous roles in things as well such as Netflix’s Outlaw King, The Commuter with Liam Neeson, that Little Drummer Girl limited series with Alexander Skaarsgaard. And there’s a good reason why she’s getting so much work. She’s a helluva fucking actress. Everything I see her in she keeps getting better and better (one reason to see Midsommar is that it’s literally her best performance ever). And here, she completely embodies Paige (from the very small real footage I’ve seen of the wrestler), and manages to convince me that she was the underdog her overcame all obstacles thrown at her.
The movie deals with her entire rise to the beginning of her WWE stardom, and also deals with her mom and dad (who run a small Wrestling little Federation in England) being proud of her, but then dealing with her brother, who doesn’t even pass the first stage of getting even remotely close to the WWE. The reason why this wasn’t much of a theatrical experience is that all of these story lines play out exactly as you think. When Paige wants to quit, her parents try to convince her not to, and while her brother is at first jealous of her, he eventually finds his footing and gets mad at her when she wants to give up when she’s so close to both of their dreams. And if you want to see this because you are hoping for several real fun matches of Paige on the WWE, prepare to be disappointed, it’s mostly all just training montages with a couple of short matches in the small England Federation her Mom and Dad own, and then literally her first match on WWE. That’s it. But if you come for the inspiring story, like I do, then you are in for a half way decent treat. Note that when it says, “Based on a true story,” that what it shows you probably didn’t happen exactly as it shows (especially the clamming up during Paige’s first WWE appearance, I don’t think that happened) but the heart of it is plainly there to see. I liked that the movie also had these other women trying out for the WWE and even though they were former models or pin up bikini models, they were actually smart and had actual lives outside of wrestling. It’s a very woman empowering film.
Those wanting to watch it because the are Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson completists, I know that they advertised the shit out of him in the marketing campaign, but he is just a glorified cameo. He is literally in only two scenes, one which is completely spoiled in the trailer to the film. Honestly, whenever any celebrity is on the “and” tail end of a movie poster, I know to not expect them in the film all that much (aka Drew Barrymore in Scream and Bryan Cranston in Godzilla, except Dwayne obviously doesn’t die here). But even in the scenes he is in, he reeks his hard yet gentle charisma and shows why he is getting a lot of work in the film business today. The film is written and directed by Stephen Merchant, and anybody whose anybody knows that he’s a good friend of Simon Pegg’s, Nick Frost (who’s really funny in the limited screen time in this as Paige’s dad), and Ricky Gervais. He’s co-written and co directed several other things, but I think this is his solo debut, and even though it seems like it is a point and shoot affair (even the wrestling scenes are just static shots), he seems like he is a good actor’s director as he gets I feel like were the best performances out of all those involved.
Vince Vaughn seemed to actually give a shit for once since Wedding Crashers and Brawl in Cell Block 99, and Leny Headey (Cersei in Game of Thrones) was charming for the limited screen time she was in, even though it seemed like she walked across the studio lot and just put on a wig for them after a day’s work on the HBO series. What I liked most about the film is the way that shows, even though that some aspects of wrestling are fake, the work to get there and even once there is a lot of physical and mental hard work. These wrestlers and entertainers are challenging themselves mentally and physically all just to put on a good show for those that are willing to watch. Hell, I even had a 3 to 5 year period when I was younger where I loved the shit out of wrestling, even getting free yet shit signals to the pay per view matches that my parents (and when thinking back on it, nor I) didn’t want to pay for. They were enjoyable even though I knew they were fake. If I would’ve known then what I do now, of how hard on a person it can be, I think I would’ve appreciated it more. This is a movie for old or new fans of wrestling that reshapes it all into one giant respect bubble.