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Stephen Merchant
Florence Pugh, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn
Writing Credits:
Stephen Merchant

A former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$7,813,113 on 2711 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13/Unrated.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
English DVS
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 109 min. (Theatrical)
109 min. (Director’s Cut)
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 5/14/2019

• Both Theatrical and Director’s Cuts
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director/Actor Stephen Merchant
• Deleted/Extended Scenes
• Gag Reel
• “A Family’s Passion” Featurette
• “Learning the Moves” Featurette
• Previews
• DVD Copy


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Fighting With My Family [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 7, 2019)

Films about athletes who battle the odds to achieve success are a dime a dozen, but 2019’s Fighting With My Family adds a twist. In this case, the aspiring athlete craves to become a pro wrestler.

Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh) grows up in a British family where they earn their keep via pro wrestling. Father Patrick (Nick Frost) and mother Julia (Lena Headey) initially pin hopes for stardom on oldest son Roy (James Burrows), but he can’t make the grade and ends up in prison.

Saraya and brother Zak (Jack Lowden) keep the dream alive and audition for the WWE when the show comes to London. Though the family members see Zak as the best candidate, he doesn’t impress WWE scout Hutch Morgan (Vince Vaughn).

Instead, Saraya passes the audition and goes to Florida to train as a potential pro wrestler. As she works to fit into the system, Zak struggles to accept his life outside the WWE.

Does it count as a spoiler to state that Saraya – under the stage name “Paige” – eventually becomes a wrestling star? It shouldn’t, as Paige quickly became a sensation, and I suspect 99 percent of the audience already knows this.

If you’re in the one percent unaware of Paige’s fame, oops! Sorry!

Even if you’ve never heard of Paige, though, Fighting lacks surprises. It follows the athletic rags to riches formula to a “T”, so one shouldn’t anticipate anything outside of that box.

Actually, that’s not entirely true, as the movie’s bifurcated nature gives it a different spin. While we spend a lot of time with Saraya, we also follow Zak’s tale as a contrast.

In theory, this adds spice to the proceedings. In reality, it just splits time and waters down the two stories, as neither gets enough space to develop in a satisfying manner.

Even if Fighting opened up enough to really explore its roles, it seems disinterested in anything other than clichés. Virtually every plot point comes telegraphed a mile in advance, and none of these scenes rise above the usual trite limitations of the genre.

Writer/director Stephen Merchant gained fame as Ricky Gervais’s partner, so it seems reasonable to anticipate biting wit from Fighting. Good luck with that – while the movie attempts occasional moments of comedy, these tend to feel tame and gratuitous.

That arguably becomes the biggest disappointment, as it surprises me that a movie written/directed by Merchant that also stars Frost could boast so few laughs. Granted, a lot of the film attempts a more dramatic push, so I can’t blame Merchant for the absence of wall to wall guffaws.

Unfortunately, even the attempts at humor don’t really work. We get the occasional chuckle but a lot of the jokes fall flat.

The contrived nature of the narrative becomes a bigger problem, especially because Fighting suspends reality to push its dramatic choices. Much of Saraya’s path to the WWE makes no sense, especially when she gets her big shot at fame.

Basically Fighting tells us that Saraya learns Paige will perform in her first WWE match the day before this happens, and it wants us to believe that no rehearsal took place. In the movie’s world, Paige just struts into the ring without any form of lead-up, choreography or practice.

When I was a teen, pro wrestlers still maintained the fiction that the matches were spontaneous and not pre-planned. The WWE long ago abandoned that ruse, and the movie even acknowledges that bouts enjoy predetermined moves and outcomes.

If Fighting adhered to the old notion that the WWE provided unscripted matches, I could accept Paige’s baptism by fire. However, there’s precisely a zero-point-zero chance that the WWE bosses would allow Paige to wrestle without a wholly choreographed and rehearsed match.

Sure, the improvised bout that acts as the climax lets Fighting push toward more traditional sports movie territory. If we knew that Paige and her opponent had already worked out their battle in advance, we wouldn’t get the “excitement” of her triumph.

But why bother with this cliché at all? As depicted here, Saraya’s real victory simply stems from the fact she got to the WWE in the first place.

As such, her “championship” seems gratuitous. A more self-confident filmmaker would’ve allowed Fighting to end with Saraya’s ascension to the ring and omitted the climactic bout entirely.

But Merchant clearly isn’t that filmmaker, and his insecurities riddle Fighting. He never seems confident enough in his abilities or the material to take any chances, so we end up with watered-down feel-good mush.

I can’t claim Fighting lacks any charms, as the actors bring some life to the proceedings – and a brief shot of Ellie Gonsalves in a bikini might be worth the price of admission alone. However, the movie indulges in too many clichés and can’t balance them with the creativity and heart it needs to succeed.

Footnote: Merchant plays a small role as the father of Zak’s girlfriend Courtney (Hannah Rae). Seen with a mustache, Merchant bears a terrifying resemblance to a Dr. Seuss character – he could’ve been in the live-action Grinch with no need for prosthetics or makeup.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Fighting With My Family appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Overall, this was a positive image.

On a smidgen of softness ever cropped up here, mainly in some low-light shots. Otherwise, the movie showed nice clarity and delineation.

Jagged edges and moiré effects failed to appear, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also stayed away from this clean image.

In terms of palette, Fighting went with mix of teal and amber. Overall, the hues were fine for their visual choices.

Blacks showed good depth, while low-light shots boasted nice clarity. This was a solid “B+“ presentation.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it gave us competent sonics most of the time as well as a little pep on occasion. A character tale like this didn’t need to boast a rock-em, sock-em mix, so the audio seemed acceptable.

Usually, the soundfield didn’t have a lot to do, as it concentrated on good stereo music and general ambience. Every once in a while, though, the mix came to life – in a moderate manner, at least, and mainly during wrestling scenes. didn’t dazzle, but they gave the mix reasonable breadth.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other concerns. Music appeared full, with reasonable definition.

Effects remained clear and accurate, with some pretty solid low-end response during louder moments. This became a fairly satisfying track.

The disc comes with both the movie’s Theatrical Version (1:48:28) as well as an unrated Director’s Cut (1:48:25). As you can tell from those running times, you won’t find many differences between the two.

Indeed, only three changes occur, and all seem exceedingly minor. For the Director’s Cut, the family dinner offers a slightly more explicit expression.

When we meet the Rock, he repeats Saraya’s exclamation in the DC, whereas the theatrical leaves him silent and includes a pause. In addition, the sequence in which Paige gets heckled at her first NXT appearance comes with more explicit jeers from the audience.

There’s no reason not to watch the Director’s Cut, but it seems like a waste of space, as it makes nearly unnoticeable changes. You’ll find no actual substance among the tiny alterations.

We also get an audio commentary from writer/director/actor Stephen Merchant. He brings a running, screen-specific look at how he came to the project, research and factual domains, story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, cut scenes and related domains.

Overall, Merchant creates a charming, enjoyable chat. He covers the film well and does so with wit and honesty. This ends up as an engaging and informative commentary.

Six Deleted/Extended Scenes fill a total of eight minutes, 53 seconds. Most of that running time comes from a couple of elongated sequences, and even those don’t offer much new content.

As for the other clips, they add some minor comedy. We don’t get anything especially notable, though.

A Gag Reel goes for two minutes, 42 seconds. Most of this focuses on goofs and giggles, and bits from the family dinner dominate. The “Reel” seems forgettable.

Two featurettes follow, and A Family’s Passion lasts eight minutes, 53 seconds and includes comments from Merchant, actor/producer Dwayne Johnson, real-life subjects Paige, Ricky Knight, Zak Knight and Julia Knight, and actors Florence Pugh, Jack Lowden, Nick Frost and Lena Headey.

“Passion” looks at the source material and research, the real family behind the film, cast and performances, and shooting the wrestling. This becomes a semi-fluffy but still reasonably informative reel.

Finally, Learning the Moves runs three minutes, 18 seconds and features Pugh, Paige, Merchant, Lowden, stunt double Tessa Blanchard, wrestling advisor Gareth Harris, wrestling performer James O’Hagan, and wrestler Andrew Marshall and Keith Cowhill.

This featurettes looks at the depiction of wrestling in the film. It comes with some good shots from the set but it fails to deliver much substance.

The disc opens with ads for The Hustle, The Upside, Operation Finale, Arctic, Serenity (2019) and Hotel Mumbai. No trailer for Fighting appears here.

A second disc presents a DVD copy of Fighting. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray, except it lacks the Director’s Cut.

An underdog story that leaves few clichés unturned, Fighting With My Family disappoints. It lacks coherence and consistency, so it becomes a forgettable tale. The Blu-ray brings solid picture and audio along with a few good bonus materials. Fighting wastes its talent on a stale story.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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