Movie review: Fighting With My Family delivers a powerslam of charm and laughs
The line "based on a true story" usually means less truth and more legend, and such films live and die on charm.
Fortunately, Fighting With My Family is filled with it - and that is not even counting Dwayne Johnson's cameo.
The real story falls into "stranger than fiction" territory. A girl from a small, run-down English town is picked from obscurity to become a WWE superstar. Not that it is an easy journey, and it risks dividing her close-knit family.
Director Stephen Merchant hits all the right emotional cues as the success of Saraya "Paige" Knight (Florence Pugh) contrasts with the (mis)fortunes of her brother Zak (Jack Lowden) - turned down by coach Hutch Morgan (Vince Vaughn) from the destiny he believed was his.
Pugh has a lot to shoulder, figuratively and physically, yet proves to be a lead you want to follow as the fish out of water who has to prove she has what it takes, both to Hutch and herself.
The supporting cast is good, and Lowden deserves credit for selling Zak's anger and anguish.
Likewise, Vaughn delivers one of his more likeable performances in recent times by restricting himself from the usual tricks.
No surprise that this biographical comedy-drama is served with a hefty cheese topping.
Are those other girls – the bikini model cheerleader types – simply a mean clique, or could Paige be more judgmental about their looks than they are about her goth image and kohl?
In these moments, it is clear how easily Fighting With My Family could have been awful.
Being a WWE production, of course the corporate branding will push the concept of an all-for-one, happy, diverse family.
What cuts through the saccharine is the film's special move – a powerslam of humour.
The biggest laughs come from Nick Frost as Paige and Zak's dad, Dwayne Johnson as himself and Merchant as Zak's father-in-law - the latter a highly under-rated physical comedian.
This is a heart-warmer that, just like WWE, looks cheesy but soon sweeps you up in its energy until you are cheering along with everyone else.
Rating : 3 Ticks
MOVIE: Fighting With My Family
STARRING: Florence Pugh, Dwayne Johnson, Vince Vaughn, Jack Lowden, Nick Frost, Lena Headey
DIRECTOR: Stephen Merchant
THE SKINNY: Saraya ''Paige'' Knight (Pugh) and her brother (Lowden) have been raised as wrestlers. Then one day, the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) comes to take only one of them into the big time.
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