Director: Stephen Merchant
Cast: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Florence Pugh, Vince Vaughn, Nick Frost, Lena Headey, Jack Lowden.
Can you smell what the Stephen Merchant is cooking? Yes, we do and we love the smell and taste of it. “The Office.” co creator’s mind for sharp dialogue and character-based comedy proves to be an essential muscle for this feel-good true story, which tells of how WWE superstar Paige came from a completely lovable wrestling clan and rose to international stardom.
The film stars with a video montage of the jabroni beating, ass-kicking, people’s champ The Rock and this is where the movie opens with a pop (WWE slang for cheers) and you are overwhelmed. Just after this the movie sets the tone with his 1st hilarious joke as the parents played by Patrick ‘Rowdy Ricky Knight’ (Nick Frost) and Julia ‘Sweet Saraya (Lena Headey) reach their son Zack Zodiac (Jack Lowden) the proper way to put a chokehold on her baby sister Saraya (Florence Pugh). The film’s funniest scenes are early on when the Knights meet the parents of Kirsten, Zac’s girlfriend.
Director Stephen Merchant shows Saraya’s steady ascent to WWE stardom with blood, sweat, tears, and personal branding (where she changes her stage name from Britany to Paige). How do you show a character’s progress arc in an industry where everything is fixed, not faked? He finds a solution in part by not forgetting about Zac when he doesn’t make the cut, and putting a lot of dramatic screen-time into Paige’s weaknesses—that she isn’t as strong as some of the other women, which her coach Hutch (played with tough love by Vince Vaughn) reminds her about. Worst of all, she gets stage fright when it comes to the essential act of talking trash in the ring. But in the end she overcomes everything and the rest is history.
Stephen Merchant’s direction coupled with superb performances makes Fighting With My Family an entertaining watch.