MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
The Knight family is a close-knit bunch living in Norwich, Norfolk, England. The family runs a local wrestling club to help disadvantaged kids develop self-respect as well as physical health. Their working-class neighborhood is virtually all disadvantaged kids, so there’s much work to be done. Ricky (Nick Frost) once served a while in prison for robbery, but he is a reformed gentle giant of a man, deeply in love with his wife Julia (Headey) and their two young adult children Saraya (Pugh) and Zac (Jack Lowden). They are a family of wrestlers and they all work hard to keep their local wrestling league active in a local gym. Zac drives over town in the family van, picking up youth for the program, even encouraging one of them to walk away from dealing drugs in order to choose a better path.
When World Wrestling Entertainment comes to London for a televised match, they hold open auditions for aspiring wrestlers. Saraya and Zac make the trip and join a bunch of other hopefuls. They get to meet Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (playing himself) and then go to try out for Coach Jake Roberts (Vince Vaughn). Roberts chooses Saraya alone to travel to Florida and then to training in the NXT (a type of farm team for the WWE). Since Saraya and Zac assumed that they would both be deemed worthy, at first Saraya refuses to go without her brother. But Zac insists that she take advantage of this opportunity (although his resentment of being passed over is palpable.)
The film jumps back and forth across the pond, showing Saraya (who changes her professional name to Paige) struggling to fit in with the more glamourous newcomers in Florida, and Zac sinking into deeper despair as his attempts to get the WWE to reconsider him fall on deaf ears. Through it all, Rick and Julia are there for their kids, no matter what.
Since Fighting with My Family is based on the true story of Paige, a WWE superstar, the conclusion of the movie will be no surprise, but writer-director Stephen Merchant is able to find a lot of laughs and some honest pain in this coming of age story. The film also challenges what constitutes success in life, finding a way to demonstrate that some of the greatest things a person can accomplish happen in small ways, one person at a time.
While it is easy to make fun of groups who hand out ribbons to every child who participates in an event, it seems to me that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is exactly that – the promise of a Kingdom in which all are saved by the grace of God. Fighting with My Family demonstrates that perhaps a world full of winners is not such a bad thing at all.
Halo and Pitchfork Rating:
Four halos: A good-natured film about family and values in the guise of a WWE biopic.
Two pitchforks: Casual swearing; some crude humor; choreographed violence; scenes of drug dealing.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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