Feelgood Friday Film Club: Fighting with My Family
- Jo Berry
- 5 June 2020
The latest in our series of feelgood streaming suggestions to help see you through lockdown
We've all watched – and loved – movies about following your dreams, but there is something addictively uplifting (and yes, feelgood) about them that keeps us coming back for more. Whether it is that feisty welder who wants to be a ballet dancer (Flashdance) or the cute rat who wishes he was a Parisian chef (Ratatouille), the story of someone with goals, fighting against the odds to earn their happy ending never fails to leave us cheering over the end credits.
It is even better when, as with Fighting with My Family, it's inspired by a true story. The family in this comedy drama are the Knights – a clan of Norwich-based wrestlers, led by dad Ricky (Nick Frost) and mum Julia (Lena Headey). Their teenage kids are wrestlers too, and both Zak (Jack Lowden) and Saraya (Florence Pugh) dream of leaving their portable wrestling ring and performances in dodgy Norfolk pubs behind them for the bright lights of the WWE.
When the siblings get the chance to try out for WWE coach Hutch (Vince Vaughn), it's Saraya – renaming herself Paige – who is chosen and gets the chance to join a tough training camp in Florida that could lead to failure and a ticket home, or the chance to wrestle in front of a TV audience of millions.
The movie has all the 'follow your dream' elements you'd expect – there are tough times, people who don't think Paige can do it, moments of failure and rousing training sequences – plus the added bonus of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson popping up playing himself. (Quick lockdown tip: from his Jumanji movies to Hobbs & Shaw to Moana, there are very few recent Johnson movies that don't qualify as feelgood films.)
You don't have to like wrestling to enjoy the action (just as with Billy Elliot where you didn't have to care about ballet) but writer-director Stephen Merchant makes the staged fights tons of fun nonetheless. And, at the centre of it all, is Paige and her crude, hilarious family, with Frost, Headey and Lowden all giving terrific, funny performances. Pugh, meanwhile, is so warm, believable and tough in the lead it's easy to root for her – and make sure you head to YouTube when it's over to watch footage of real WWE star Paige in action. Just don't try any of her daredevil moves at home.
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