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Fighting With My Family Reviews Round-Up

Published: 08 Mar 2019

Fighting With My Family opened in US cinemas on February 14th and on March 1st in the UK, wrestling its way up to the top of the national Box Office. Here’s a round-up of reviews from both sides of the Atlantic:

“We knew she [Florence Pugh] was great with darker material as in Lady Macbeth and The Little Drummer Girl, but here she gets to exercise her funny bone, as well as a decent Norfolk accent.”, says Ian Sandwell for Digital Spy. “It’s an engaging performance that sees the movie through its more clichéd sports biopic moments. It’s not just Pugh’s show though as Jack Lowden is effectively the co-lead as Saraya’s brother Zak, who also auditioned for the WWE like his sister but didn’t make it through the audition stage. Lowden gets to do more heavy lifting as Zak struggles with a rejection from something that he believes is “all I can do”. It’s these parts of the movie that lift it above your average underdog tale as it’s unafraid to show the uglier side of competition.”

Read the full review on Digital Spy.

Rosie Knight for IGN covers the depictions of class in the film: “It’s rare to see a representation of the reality of working-class life in Britain, and Fighting With My Family paints a sweet and authentically diverse picture of life in Norwich, the city out of which the family runs their own small wrestling franchise.” She continues with an analysis of the performances: “Frost and Headey are charming, providing plenty of comedy relief as Saraya’s parents, and Jack Lowden turns in an affecting performance as her wrestling-obsessed brother Zak who dreams of nothing more than joining the ranks of the WWE.”

Read the full review on IGN.

Emily Yoshida writing for Vulture magazine makes a connection with the very conventions of the world of professional sport: “It’s a pretty delightful Cinderella story in its own right, and just clear-eyed enough about the absurdities of a life in wrestling to have some grip to it.” Yoshida then mentions the appeal of the director’s vision: “Merchant is more brutally honest than most sports movies — or any kind of rising-star movie, for that matter — about failure, and it makes Fighting With My Family better than it needs to be.”

Read the full article on Vulture.

Manohla Dargis for The New York Times shares their praise for the team behind the camera: “The writer-director Stephen Merchant plunges into the domestic fray straightway, opening with a peek at the Rock, a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson, living the dream on the Knights’ television. Johnson is one of the movie’s producers as well as one of the story’s leading talismans, the embodiment of the Knight family ideal. Like genre cinema, professional wrestling strikes a balance between convention and innovation, between what the crowd knows (expects) and the surprises, the little deviations from the usual script, that can drive it to its feet. Like all genre movies, sports stories tend to cling to a familiar template, one involving struggle, tears, heart, soul and triumph — cue the cheering crowd. Fighting With My Family isn’t much different…”

Read the full article on The New York Times website.

For Larushka Ivan-zadeh at Metro, the director is the big hit: “Merchant is the last person you’d pick to make what’s essentially a WWE promotional movie but he imbues his solo directorial debut with all the dark humour and emotional shading you’d expect from the co-writer of The Office.” They follow with: “He’s not the only secret weapon here. Rising superstar Florence Pugh justifies her ‘new Kate Winslet’ reputation by proving she can nail comedy as definitively as tragedy, having turned heads with 2017’s Lady Macbeth.”

Read the full article on the Metro website.

Geoffrey Macnab at the Independent starts his article with: “Wrestling is storytelling,” one character proclaims early on in Stephen Merchant’s rousing and unexpectedly charming comedy-drama. This is a film in which every move and feint can be guesses in advance. Its predictability doesn’t lessen its emotional impact in the slightest. As the wrestlers themselves make clear, there is a huge difference between a “fixed” fight and a “fake” one. The events depicted here feel “real” even if they rarely surprise us.” Macnab then comments on the magic behind the camera: “Merchant pays tribute to his source material with scenes in which the characters talk direct to the camera, just as they did in the documentary.” He continues with: “The filmmakers do an excellent job of capturing their characters’ idiosyncrasies without patronising or caricaturing them.”

Read the full article on The Independent.

Brian Viner for The Daily Mail says: “Fighting With My Family, written and directed by Stephen Merchant, is a warm, funny, moving and indeed mostly true account of a girl from Norwich who rose to become a star of World Wrestling Entertainment, the American showbiz behemoth known as WWE.” He describes the movie, “as a playful comedy only to knock you sideways with its emotional depths.”

Read the rest of the article on The Daily Mail.

Robbie Collin at The Daily Telegraph examines Merchant’s writing style: “His script embraces all the underdog clichés, but punctures each of them seconds after use, then lets us enjoy watching them thrrrp back down to earth.” He continues with: “Merchant is obviously more comfortable directing comedy than wrestling, but the film’s unglamorous look helps undercut its fairy-tale elements, and also saves Paige’s family from being romanticised as struggling left-behinds of caricatured as grifting chavs. Instead, they’re four real, recognisable people, with a comic edge and an easy, worn-in chemistry that’s a delight to behold.”

Read the complete article on The Telegraph:

Jeremy Jahns on YouTube summarises his experience watching the movie: “This movie just had everything I wanted a movie like this to have great characters, snappy dialogue, it has heart, it’s about family, but it also has a lot humour.” He continues with: “I hadn’t laughed this hard in a movie in a very long time, and the important thing, I really want to stress this important thing. The humour, to me, never compromised the drama.” He concludes with: “It’s an inspiring movie. An inspiring, entertaining and even funny movie about an underdog striving for their goal in life,” and that, “We can all take something away from this movie. We can all learn from this movie.”

Watch the rest of the review on YouTube.

Chris Stuckman on YouTube delves into the depths of the movie: “I felt the real heart and soul of this movie was the relationship between Paige and her brother because both of them are very much so in this. Like they really want it, and when things don’t go a hundred percent according to plan, it causes a lot of family drama and that’s where the movie really got under my skin – in a good way. Like it actually made me feel a lot for this family.”

Watch the entire review on YouTube.