Underdog stories and movies based on actual events are among the most commonplace staples in the movie industry today. The genres reach all the way back to Hollywood’s golden age. Back in February, World Wrestling Entertainment and its movie division WWE Studios joined the ranks of studios that have churned out movies under one banner, the other, or both when it debuted its new movie about WWE Divas Champion Paige, Fighting With My Family. The movie made its way to home release only months later in May complete with bonus content and extended director’s cut. The bonus content featured in the movie’s home release plays its own important part to the whole of Fighting With My Family and will be addressed a little later. The movie’s central story is its most important element and will be addressed shortly. The work of the movie’s cast on screen also plays into its presentation and will also be addressed later. Each item noted is important in its own way. All things considered, Fighting With My Family proves to be a movie that has at least a fighting chance with WWE fans and wrestling fans in general.
WWE Studios/Universal Pictures’ recently released dramedy Fighting With My Family is a work that will appeal to a very targeted audience. Keeping that in mind, it is a movie that has at least a fighting chance (yes, that pun was intended) with those viewers. That is due in part to the story at the center of the movie. The story is a work with an all too familiar underdog/coming-of-age base that is itself based on actual events. It is nothing that audiences have never seen before, even within the sports realm, too. It follows the story of WWE Divas Champion Paige as she rises through the ranks of the WWE from her humble beginnings in England. Keeping that in mind, one could even call it another rags-to-riches piece. Simply put, the story is nothing new in the bigger picture of the movie industry, and not overly memorable. However, it is still an interesting piece worth at least an occasional watch both among wrestling/WWE fans and audiences in general. Director Steven Merchant notes in his feature-length commentary that the Knight family was closely consulted for the movie, since it is based on a documentary about the family and real events. He reveals the movie stays close to Paige’s real story, despite a few liberties being taken. To that end, it will make the story that much more appealing for viewers. It is just one of the aspects that makes the movie appealing to the noted viewers. The work of the movie’s cast adds its own share of interest to the movie’s presentation.
While Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson does appear in the movie – and produced it – he is not the main star in the movie. The cast that portrays Paige and her family are the main stars. Nick Frost plays Paige’s dad Ricky, and is so entertaining in the role. Between his comedic moments and his more emotional moment (at the story’s finale) and even his more tough guy moments, Frost manages to keep viewers entertained with ease. Frost’s co-star Lena Heady, who plays Paige’s mom Julia, plays so well against Frost as a foil. The chemistry between the pair is obvious in their interactions. It makes those interactions that much more enjoyable. Lead star Florence Pugh is just as entertaining as her cast mates as she grows and develops as a character. Her portrayal of Paige will keep viewers fully engaged as she goes from being that outside underdog figure at the story’s beginning to the confident, proud Divas Champion by the story’s end. There’s no reason to hide that aspect of the story. A story of this nature obviously ends with the underdog rising above all obstacles to win the biggest prize. Between her acting, that of her main cast mates and even the supporting cast, the work on camera by the movie’s cast does just as much as the story itself to make the movie appealing for its key viewer base. When the two elements are joined, they show even more why this movie doesn’t go down without a fight. Yes, that awful pun was intended, too. They are not the movie’s only key elements. The bonus content that is featured with its home release is just as worth noting.
The bonus content featured with Fighting With My Family includes a feature-length audio commentary with Merchant, a “making of” featurette that features interviews with the cast, deleted scenes and a featurette on how Pugh learned the wrestling moves needed to take on the role of Paige. The feature-length commentary is the anchor for the bonus content. Merchant reveals through his commentary, a lot of information. He points out that Paige’s first NXT match was actually inspired by Eminem’s movie 8 Mile, and adds later, Clint Eastwood’s 1979 movie Escape From Alcatraz played into another scene later in the movie. That is just the tip of the iceberg. He also reveals that Pugh’s co-star Vince Vaughan did quite a bit of improving throughout the movie in terms of lines. The discussions on his improving will be saved for audiences to discover for themselves. Merchant also reveals through his discussions, that parts of Paige’s story were left out for the sake of time, such as the fact that Paige was accepted into WWE on her second try, not her first, and her road to the Divas Championship was far longer than time allowed, even in two-and-a-half hours (the run time of the movie’s director’s cut). The NXT facility shown in the movie was not WWE’s real NXT facility, either, according to Merchant. He reveals the facility was a set created in England, though many of the wrestling matches and WWE scenes were shot on set at WWE tapings. This is just some of the information that is revealed through Merchant’s commentary. There is far more for audiences to take in for themselves. Between everything listed here and everything else, Merchant’s commentary proves it is the most important of this movie’s bonus features.
The cast discussions on their interactions with the real life Knight family and the focus on Pugh’s wrestling lessons are enlightening and entertaining in their own right. They add a little bit more to Merchant’s discussions, but are overshadowed by the noted commentary. That is not to say that they lack value, but that the commentary holds the most power in this movie’s presentation.
The deleted scenes are interesting in that it is clear why certain scenes were cut. For instance, the extended cut of the chase between Zak and Ez definitely did not need to be in the movie for any impact. To that end, the chase scene that is featured works well in itself. The additional scene in which Paige’s friends confront her for changing when she comes home for the holidays is another scene that was cut. It definitely was not needed either. Paige’s weightlifting scene at the NXT facility did not add much to the movie, either, so it is understandable in watching that scene why it was cut, too. These are just a few of the scenes that were cut from the final product. When they are considered alongside the rest of the featured deleted scenes, the effect of having cut them makes for more appreciation for what is in the final product – even in the director’s cut. Keeping all of this in mind along with the notes of the director’s commentary and the other featurettes, the bonus material featured with the home release of Fighting With My Family proves to be, in fact, important in its own right to the whole of the movie. When it is considered along with the work of the cast on camera and the work of Merchant in fashioning the script, all three elements make the movie a piece that while it may not get its own title belt, at least doesn’t get pinned. It is a movie that is worth at least an occasional watch that deserves a fighting chance.
WWE Studios/Universal Pictures’ recently released movie Fighting With My Family is an interesting presentation that will definitely appeal to wrestling fans in general and WWE fans alike. It doesn’t take the championship in the already vast sea of movies from WWE Films, but it does at least deserve a fighting chance. That is due in part to its multi-tiered story that is easily accessible due to its many all-too-familiar plot elements. The work of the movie’s cast in front of the lens adds to its appeal, as noted already here. The bonus content that is featured with the movie’s home release puts the finishing touch to its presentation. Each item is important in its own right to the whole of Fighting With My Family. All things considered, the movie doesn’t put the Smackdown on its counterparts in this year’s field of new movies, but at least never gets the three count. More information on this and other titles from WWE Studios is available online at:
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