Inspired by true events, Fighting with my Family follows Florence Pugh’s Saraya as she successfully auditions to become a wrestler with the prestigious World Wrestling Entertainment organization – with the movie detailing the impact that Saraya’s success has on her supportive parents (Lena Headey’s Julia and Nick Frost’s Ricky) and jealous brother (Jack Lowden’s Zak). Filmmaker Stephen Merchant has infused Fighting with my Family with an affable, easygoing vibe that generally proves difficult to resist, as the picture’s rags-to-riches narrative is heightened by an impressive assortment of thoroughly sympathetic characters – with, especially, Pugh’s thoroughly charismatic turn as the central protagonist going a long way towards elevating the proceedings on a scene-to-scene basis. (Likewise, Merchant has elicited solid work from a quirky supporting cast that also includes Vince Vaughn and Dwayne Johnson.) It’s equally clear, however, that the movie’s overall impact is hampered by an awfully hit-and-miss midsection, as writer/director Merchant, seemingly working from a template for stories of this ilk, spends far too much time on elements that grow increasingly difficult to wholeheartedly care about (eg Saraya’s various training sequences and montages, Zak’s self-destructive activities back home, etc, etc). There’s nevertheless little doubt that Fighting with my Family surfeit of appealing attributes ultimately carries it through to its feel-good, uplifting finale (although it does seem unlikely that the outcome of a WWE fight wouldn’t be a foregone conclusion), which cements its place as a decent yet fairly forgettable entry within the inspirational sports genre.
**1/2 out of ****