FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY – Review by Susan Granger

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Since I don’t watch pro wrestling on TV, I was unfamiliar with World Wrestling Entertainment’s Diva champion Paige who inspired this shamelessly self-promoting real-life biopic. Saraya-Jade Bevis (Florence Pugh) was raised by parents, Ricky (Nick Frost) and Julia (Lena Headley) Knight, who run a minor-league wrestling league in Norwich, England.

At first, Saraya wasn’t really interested in joining their troupe but, after an exhibition bout with her ambitious big brother Zak Zodiac (Jack Lawson), she became enthused.

As Saraya and Zak set their sights on the WWE, heading for tryouts in London, they have a chance encounter with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who urges them not to try to imitate anyone else; instead, he advises them to be themselves.

Talent scout/coach Hutch Morgan (Vince Vaughn) is interested in promoting 18 year-old Saraya – but not Zak, which causes a bit of a family crisis since despairing Zak has a wife (Hannah Rae) and new baby.

Goth-girl Saraya then rebrands herself as Paige, named after her favorite character played by Rose McGowan on TV’s Charmed.”

When Paige arrives at the WWE’s NXT training facility in Orlando, Florida, she faces not only loneliness but also disillusionment, discovering that her fellow recruits are conventionally sexy blonde, bikini-clad models/dancers: ”We’re just tits and ass, right?”

Wrong, apparently, since Paige struggles to keep up with them during Basic Training, facing various physical and psychological challenges. Meanwhile, back home, her family also grapples with change.

As pro wrestling fans know, flamboyant Paige became WWE’s Divas Champion at age 21. After a sex tape hacking and a 2018 ring injury, she’s now retired from wrestling at age 26.

According to producer Dwayne Johnson, he immediately identified with the story of this often-dysfunctional wrestling family. So his Seven Bucks Productions hired writer/director Stephen Merchant (co-creator of the British version of “The Office”) to develop the often predictable, triumph-of-the-underdog concept.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 0, Fighting With My Family is a simplistic, yet solid 6, a scrappy smackdown.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.