Fighting With My Family

Fighting with My Family is a 2019 British-American biographical sports comedy-drama film based on the 2012 documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family by director Max Fisher, depicting the WWE career of professional wrestler Paige. The film stars Florence Pugh as Paige, along with Jack Lowden, Nick Frost, Lena Headey and Vince Vaughn, and is written and directed by Stephen Merchant. Dwayne Johnson executively produces and also appears in the film. The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival on 28 January 2019, was released on 14 February 2019 in the United States.

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Fighting with My Family
Teaser poster
Directed byStephen Merchant
Produced by
Written byStephen Merchant
Based onThe Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family
Starring
Music byVik Sharma
CinematographyRemi Adefarasin
Edited byNancy Richardson
Production
company
Distributed byUnited Artists Releasing
(United States)
Lionsgate
(United Kingdom)
Universal Pictures
(International)
Release date
  • 28 January 2019 (2019-01-28) (Sundance)
  • 14 February 2019 (2019-02-14) (United States)
  • 27 February 2019 (2019-02-27) (United Kingdom)
Running time
108 minutes
Country
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$11 million[1]
Box office$8.4 million[2]

Fighting with My Family is a 2019 British-American biographical sports comedy-drama film based on the 2012 documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family by director Max Fisher, depicting the WWE career of professional wrestler Paige. The film stars Florence Pugh as Paige, along with Jack Lowden, Nick Frost, Lena Headey and Vince Vaughn, and is written and directed by Stephen Merchant. Dwayne Johnson executively produces and also appears in the film. The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival on 28 January 2019, was released on 14 February 2019 in the United States.

The film received positive reviews and has grossed over $8.4 million in the United States.[2]

Plot

In 2000 Norwich, England, 10-year-old Zak Bevis is watching the WWF (now WWE) King of the Ring pay-per-view event when his younger sister Saraya comes in and changes the channel to her favorite TV series Charmed. This leads to the two siblings to start wrestling each other at the encouragement of their parents, Rick and Julia. Rick later then informs the two that he has them booked for their first wrestling match. Saraya is hesitant on wrestling a boy until they convince Zak to dress up as the Pink Ranger from Power Rangers to make Saraya more comfortable. Saraya becomes more comfortable as the match goes on and wins as planned.

A few years later, now 18 and competing under the ring name Britani Knight, Saraya and her brother (now competing under the name Zak Zodiac) help their parents train prospective wrestlers while working for their promotion. Their parents, struggling to make ends meet, constantly call WWE trainer Hutch Morgan about signing the two so that they can be more comfortable financially. Morgan finally agrees to a tryout before a SmackDown taping at The O2 Arena, and tells Saraya to come up with a different ring name because they "already have a Britani". Upon arriving for the tryout, the two meet Dwayne Johnson who gives the two advice, while Saraya takes the new ring name Paige from her favorite character from Charmed.

The two try out along with several other wrestlers (including Pete Dunne, who Zak mistakenly calls a girl) with Morgan belittling all the wrestlers in the process. Morgan ultimately chooses Paige but turns down the rest, leading to Paige unsuccessfully attempting to have them sign Zak too. Despite this attempt and encouragement from Zak, Paige leaves for America while he stays behind, continuing to wrestle on the British independent circuit while training recruits for his parents wrestling school and tending to his girlfriend and newborn son.

Arriving at NXT in Florida, Paige has a hard adjustment to the WWE style of entertainment, mainly due to WWE not allowing intergender competition and her fellow female trainees Jeri-Lynn, Kirsten, & Maddison having no wresting experience. Paige also struggles with doing promos and constant belittling from Morgan.

Meanwhile, Zak becomes depressed after constantly calling Morgan about another tryout before Morgan makes it clear he will never be signed to WWE, leading him to develop a tendency for alcoholism. When Paige makes a Skype call to her parents, she finds out that they are selling merchandise based on her likeness without her permission and have booked her in a match against Zak when she comes home for Christmas.

During an NXT live event, Paige and her fellow trainees make their in-ring debut and all cut promos on each other. Paige, who is heckled by the live crowd, freezes up and runs out of the ring crying. Afterwards, she decides to bleach her hair blonde and uses spray tan in order to look like her fellow trainees, which only brings more antagonism between her and the three.

After she fails an obstacle course but refuses to drop out of training right before the Christmas break, Paige lashes out at her fellow trainees for thinking they were gossiping about her when they were really talking about Jeri-Lynn's daughter and how much she has been away from her in order to give her a better life.

Following a stop for a bathroom break on the bus ride home, Morgan tells Paige that the reason they didn't pick her brother was because his future in WWE was only that as an enhancement talent and that if he signed with WWE it would have ruined his life. Morgan then encourages Paige to quit, while not cutting her outright, so that she could be home with her family and be happy.

Upon arriving home, she tells Zak right before their match that she was leaving WWE and coming home. Angry that Paige was giving up on a dream he had failed to achieve himself, Zak decides to go off-script in the match and defeats Paige despite her being booked to win. Zak then tells his parents her plans to quit and after getting into a bar fight, Paige explains it was her dream as well and that they didn't sign him to protect him. Paige then changes her mind and returns to Florida in her normal appearance, with Morgan telling her that there would be no drama.

Paige drastically improves during training, befriending her fellow trainees and encouraging them not to quit. Zak, realizing his place, quits drinking and returns to training his parents students. Morgan then takes Paige and her fellow trainees to WrestleMania XXX, where Paige gets in a suite with The Rock and finds out she is making her Raw debut the following night against WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee, finding out that Morgan (who had jobbed to The Rock in a steel cage match years earlier) recommended Paige for the match.

The next night, Paige makes her Raw debut and freezes up in front of the crowd again, before Lee starts the match and unexpectedly puts the Divas Championship on the line. With her family watching back home in England, Paige ends up winning the match and the title, finally comfortable enough to say a promo "This is MY house!".

The epilogue mentions how Paige is still the youngest Divas Champion and was an early leader behind the ongoing Women's Revolution and mentioning that one of Zak's trainees, who was blind, became a wrestler while humorously mentioning The Rock's movie career and Rick trying to sell shares in the family's business. The closing credits show footage from the 2012 documentary based on the family tradition and the ending of the aforementioned match between Paige and AJ Lee.

Cast

Additionally, WWE wrestlers Big Show and Sheamus make appearances as themselves, while an uncredited actor played John Cena. Several other WWE wrestlers (including Cena himself) appear in archival footage throughout the film.

Production

On 7 February 2017, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Dwayne Johnson and Stephen Merchant had teamed with WWE Studios and Film4 to produce a film based on the life of Saraya "Paige" Bevis, a professional wrestler with WWE.[3] Merchant was to write and direct the film, while Johnson was to cameo in the film and executive produce. In the days after the announcement, the main cast was revealed: Florence Pugh as Saraya,[4] Jack Lowden as Saraya's brother Zak, and Lena Headey and Nick Frost as their parents.[5] Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired the distribution rights on February 10 for US$17.5 million.[6] On 14 February, Johnson announced that Vince Vaughn had been cast and that filming would commence the following day.[7][8] In-ring scenes were filmed after WWE Raw on 20 February at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.[9][10] Filming also took place around Norwich, England, with locations around the city used in the film.[11]

Like many Hollywood-backed biographical films, the film took several liberties with Paige's journey with WWE. Paige's time in NXT was kept minimal with no mention of her reign as NXT Women's Champion, and several characters were fictional, including Hutch Morgan. Additionally, Paige had previously failed a WWE tryout before being successful in another. Johnson himself never met Paige (or any of the Bevis/Knight family) until seeing the original documentary in 2012, which contradicts the film's portrayal of Johnson meeting Paige and Zak backstage of a WWE event in England; Johnson himself had just returned to WWE in 2011 after a seven-year absence when Paige signed with WWE in April 2011.[12]

Release

Fighting with My Family premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on January 28, 2019. It was released in the United States on February 14, 2019, in select theatres. It received a wide release on February 22, 2019, in the United States, and is scheduled to release on February 27, 2019, in the United Kingdom.[13][14]

Reception

Box office

In its limited opening weekend, Fighting with My Family made $138,780 from four theaters, and a total of $196,841 over the four-day President's Day weekend.[15] In its wide release weekend, the film was released alongside How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and was projected to gross $8–10 million from 2,500 theaters.[16] It then made $2.6 million on its first day, including $450,000 from Thursday night. It went on to debut to $8 million, finishing fourth at the box office.[17]

Critical response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 91% based on 113 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Much like the sport it celebrates, Fighting with My Family muscles past clichés with a potent blend of energy and committed acting that should leave audiences cheering."[18] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 70 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[19] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an overall positive score of 83% and a 57% "definite recommend".[17]

Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com opined in a three-out-of-four star review: "Even though Fighting with My Family is undoubtedly about branding the WWE as a fantasy factory, its biggest strengths are its wit and surprisingly big heart."[20]

References

  1. Keegan, Rebecca (February 4, 2019). ""We Wanted a Studio to Buy Into It, And No One Did": Why Dwayne Johnson Went Indie for His New Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  2. 1 2 "Fighting with My Family (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  3. Ford, Rebecca; Ritman, Alex (February 7, 2017). "Dwayne Johnson Gets in the Ring for 'Fighting With My Family' Wrestling Film (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 16, 2017. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  4. Shoard, Catherine (February 8, 2017). "Stephen Merchant to direct Dwayne Johnson in female wrestling drama". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on March 6, 2017. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  5. Fleming Jr., Mike (February 9, 2017). "Lena Headey & Nick Frost Join Dwayne Johnson In 'Fighting With My Family'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on February 15, 2017. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  6. Lodderhose, Diana; Fleming Jr., Mike (February 11, 2017). "MGM Headlocks World Rights To 'Fighting With My Family' In $17.5M Deal: Berlin". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on February 11, 2017. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  7. Kroll, Justin (February 14, 2017). "Vince Vaughn Joins Dwayne Johnson's 'Fighting With My Family'". Variety. Archived from the original on January 18, 2018. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  8. Makuch, Eddie (February 15, 2017). "The Rock's WWE Paige Biopic Adds A Big-Name Actor". GameSpot. Archived from the original on December 2, 2017. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  9. Meltzer, Dave (February 20, 2017). "The Rock at Raw for filming of 'Fighting with my Family'". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Archived from the original on April 11, 2018. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  10. Goldman, Eric (February 21, 2017). "The Rock evokes CM Punk and AJ Lee in a big way for crowd at WWE show". IGN. Archived from the original on February 22, 2017. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  11. Pochin, Courtney (April 4, 2017). "Filming for The Rock's Fighting With My Family to finish in Great Yarmouth". Great Yarmouth Mercury. Archived from the original on April 11, 2018. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  12. https://www.wrestlinginc.com/news/2019/02/paige-explains-how-dwayne-the-rock-johnson-first-approached-651296/
  13. D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 11, 2019). "Dwayne Johnson & Dany Garcia's Seven Bucks/MGM Pic 'Fighting With My Family' Making World Premiere At Sundance As Surprise Screening". Retrieved February 23, 2019.
  14. McNary, Dave (April 27, 2018). "Dwayne Johnson's Wrestling Drama 'Fighting With My Family' Moved Back to 2019". Variety. Archived from the original on April 28, 2018. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  15. D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 17, 2019). "'Alita' Battles Her Way To $41M+ 5-Day, But Remains Far From Heaven At The B.O." Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  16. D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 20, 2019). "'How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World' Is Already Winning At The B.O. With $175M Abroad Prior To $40M+ U.S. Start". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  17. 1 2 D'Alessandro, Anthony (February 22, 2018). "'How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World' Fires Up $3M On Thursday". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  18. "Fighting with My Family (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  19. "Fighting with My Family reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  20. Allen, Nick. "Fighting with My Family Movie Review (2019)". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
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