Women’s Empowerment Month: Respectful Reel Review #16


Fighting with My Family




Biographical, Wrestling, Comedy-Drama


Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn, The Rock, James Burrows, Hannah Rae, Thea Trinidad, Kim Matula, Aqueela Zoll, Ellie Gonsalves, Stephen Merchant, Julia Davis


Stephen Merchant


When the daughter and son of a British wrestling family get a chance to audition for the WWE, the opportunity is surprisingly accompanied by unrelenting physical demands, the personal struggles of family jealousy, and dreams unrealized.


A Comedy About a Family That Fights a Little Differently


Rick and Julia are professional wrestlers who have taught and trained their children, Saraya and Zak, since very young the family business. They learn to perform in the ring and as they get older, they aspire to work for the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). The youths manage to get an audition in front of Trainer Hutch Morgan on a night the WWE is taping SmackDown in England.

Before the tryouts, Saraya and Zak meet Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson who takes an interest in them, sharing advice about authenticity in the midst of a “show.” Saraya is told to change her name and she decides to call herself Paige. When Morgan only chooses Paige, she protests. She fully expected that the WWE would take both she AND her brother.

When Paige arrives in Florida as part of the NXT roster, she finds herself in the midst of a great culture shock. She, who has come from a British wrestling family, has been thrown together with models, cheerleaders, and fitness fanatics with very little wrestling experience. Needless to say, Paige struggles to fit in because despite being better prepared with wrestling moves, her fitness level is low in comparison.

Back at home, Zak continues to contact Morgan in the hopes of getting another audition. When Morgan tells Zak that he will never be a WWE superstar, Zak falls into a depression, becoming surly and resentful.

When Paige is heckled during her first live NXT performance, she leaves the spotlight in tears. Self-conscious about what she has attributed to be a failure, she decides to dye her hair blonde, and tan in order to fit in with the California beach-body look some on the roster carry so well. With yet another failure on the obstacle course, Paige hears whispers that she feels involve her. She is wrong.

Because she is so distraught, Morgan tells Paige that she should quit. He tells her that the reason he never chose Zak was because her brother would become a journeyman wrestler, a jobber, someone paid to lose fights and make the stars look better. If Paige wanted to be with her family then she never had what it takes to be a star and he was wrong. Returning home for the holidays, Paige tells her brother that she is considering quitting and he is not happy.


Last year, the Beard’s daughter, Jeanette Anna Marie Figueroa (Jammie for short) recommended this movie to me. I didn’t have access to the movie until after Women’s Empowerment Month ended, and as is typical for life, I forgot about it. During lock-down, I watched Fighting with My Family and thoroughly enjoyed it. I knew that I would eventually get to doing a review, so now seems the perfect time to do it.

Many Puerto Rican men from my father’s generation have an antiquated view of women. Consequently, the Beard and I feel that it is our responsibility to promote the month of March to laud not just the women who raised us, but also my sisters and nieces. We recognize that women are so much more than just aesthetic beauty, intelligence, and motherhood. Women fill us with awe and gratitude.

Here, Fighting with My Family is about a woman attempting to fulfill not just her dream, but the dreams of her family. In a very real sense, her success signifies their success. As in any biographical story, creative license has taken place, but the story still feels genuine. Having been a WWE fan during the time that Paige wrestled, I was aware of her accomplishments. However, watching the story unfold from her point-of-view adds depth and pathos to her story.

Stephen Merchant’s directing is stellar. He gets really dramatic camera angles when warranted and captures the emotive nuances in a non-intrusive way. The music is headbanging loud when it needs to be and subtle during the right places. It becomes intrusive during the hyperkinetic parts when actual wrestling happens. The acting is believable, and mixing in WWE actual superstars along with actors representing other superstars is a good mix.

As far as Women’s Empowerment, the message is not preachy, but communicates a standard message of “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” It is served well by the story and I feel worthy of promotion.

I found this movie to be great fun. Check it out and let me know what you think. 4 and a half out of 5 Grey Geeks.

As for me, it’s time for to me to get on out of here. My name is Louie Matos. I’m the Mustache. See you later. Take it easy!

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