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With: Florence Pugh, Jack Lowden, Nick Frost, Lena Headey, Vince Vaughn, Dwayne Johnson, James Burrows, Zelina Vega, Big Show, Kim Matula, Aqueela Zoll, Ellie Gonsalves, Stephen Merchant, Tori Ellen Ross
Written by: Stephen Merchant
Directed by: Stephen Merchant
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual material, language throughout, some violence and drug content
Running Time: 103
Date: 02/14/2019

Fighting with My Family (2019)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Ring Quartet

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

That extraordinarily tall character actor Stephen Merchant wrote (based on a 2012 documentary) and directed this delightful movie, based on the true story of wrestler Paige, who, at age 21 beat AJ Lee to win the Divas Championship belt. Fighting with My Family opens as (real name) Saraya Bevis (Florence Pugh) literally wrestles with her family in their World Association of Wrestling league in small-sized Norwich, England. Her parents (Nick Frost and Lena Headey) are former troublemakers who were "saved" by wrestling, and Saraya and her brother Zak (Jack Lowden) hope for a shot at the big time, with the WWE. They get an audition, and trouble brews when Saraya gets in and Zak does not. So she struggles with a rigorous training program, and a feeling of not belonging among the tall, gorgeous models she's been placed with, while Zak deals with mediocrity and a baby on the way with his girlfriend. Vince Vaughn gets a few zingers in, and otherwise gives a touching performance, as the head coach/trainer who can eliminate anyone at any time from competition. Merchant finds a steady, sturdy combination of hard working-class English edge (innit) and heartfelt sentiment; he gets close to The Full Monty territory without outright copying it (as so many other movies have). Merchant himself plays a funny uptight posh, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has arguably his best-ever role, as himself.

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