Starting off a bit overdramatized and trying way too hard to establish hardened characters, “Fighting with My Family” almost feels like a high school film project at the movie’s beginning. Lena Headey, who plays the arch-villain Cersei Lannister on the popular HBO series Game of Thrones, drifts way outside her queen typecast as a spirited, but hugely quirky, mother and wife to a family with one common interest: Wrestling. After a slightly rocky opening that may create thoughts of sleeper holds, “Fighting with My Family” backflips into a heartwarming story with substance.
British comedian Nick Frost is the blustering face of this Norwich, England family hoping to launch future professional wrestling gigs for the couple’s two young children, Saraya and Zak. The siblings’ lifelong dreams of making it big onto the WWE stage focuses the film’s storytelling like a bright spotlight drilling down inside the ropes of the ring. A challenging, and at times heartbreaking, journey unfolds.
Those wrestling fans familiar with the smell of what “The Rock” is cooking will enjoy the well-timed cameos by real-life WWE and movie star Dwayne Johnson. It’s his eye for talent that spring loads a young wrestler’s ability and confidence. If there’s one message that’s loud and clear in “Fighting with My Family,” it’s that the support of family and a few others can facilitate dreams into reality.
Two fine performances by Jack Lowden (“Tommy’s Honour”) and Florence Pugh (“Outlaw King”) highlight this charmer. Both deliver believable roles as brother and sister with one common goal. Their interaction never contrived or insincere. The film’s most underrated character is played by Vince Vaughn, who brings the most powerful scenes into the clearest perspective.
This emotional and true “Rocky” story is based on the 2012 documentary “The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family.” It succeeds by never straying too far into WrestleMania to pick itself up from the mat and recover on the more endearing personal side.
“Fighting with My Family” is rated PG-13 with a running time of 1 hour and 48 minutes.