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Fighting With My Family - Blu-ray Review

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Fighting With My Family

Fighting With My Family is the heartwarming new comedy based on the incredible true story of one of WWE’s biggest female wrestling superstars, Paige.

Wait! This isn’t a wrestling movie. And before you click away to dismiss the film as a ridiculously silly, amped-up, over-the-top tale of some obscure entertainer that no one other than the wrestling world’s fringe elements have ever heard of, at least hear me out.

"that’s right all you freaks, misfits, and oddballs. You now have a new film to call your very own. Time to celebrate your weirdness."


Yes, the movie is ridiculously silly, yes it is amped up and over the top, and Paige is certainly far from ever becoming a household name in America. But the professional wrestler’s underdog story, as told by writer/director Stephen Merchant (The Office), makes for one heck of an inspirational ride and is perhaps the year’s biggest surprise. It is the tale of a young woman forced to leave her family, dig down deep, and ultimately learn that what makes her different is the very thing that can make her a star. So, that’s right all you freaks, misfits, and oddballs. You now have a new film to call your very own. Time to celebrate your weirdness.

Based on the true story of WWE superstar Paige (played here by Florence Pugh, Lady Macbeth), Fighting With My Family was born from a cheaply-made documentary called The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family, and is about a wrestling-obsessed family in Great Britain that catches a big break when its youngest member, sister and daughter Saraya Bevis (who would later change her name to Paige), is invited to tryouts with hopes of becoming a wrestler for WWE’s developmental-league affiliate, “NXT.” Not only does Saraya make the cut and pass the grueling training session from WWE recruiter Hutch (Vince Vaughn), but she soon becomes the league’s inaugural champion.

It is important to point out that Saraya wasn’t the typical WWE candidate when first spotted by Hutch. Most are former models or cheerleaders with golden locks and buns of steel, but Saraya – the only actual wrestler in the bunch – is a fish out of water amongst her selected peers. With jet-black hair, heavy eye-liner, multiple piercings, and a mile-long mean streak, Saraya quickly learns that she’ll face twice the challenge – both physically and emotionally – to reach her goals.

Pugh becomes a true star right before our eyes, and very nearly steals the entire show as we watch her Saraya muster the strength to turn her vulnerable persona as an offbeat misfit into one of a true champion. And that birth of a butterfly is where the real-life Saraya’s story begins and ends, and Merchant has captured her transformation into Paige perfectly. We will undoubtedly see more of Pugh in the future.

Saraya’s family lives a hardscrabble life in a rough part of England, with the only means of making a living coming from the low-rent wrestling league father Patrick (Nick Frost, The World’s End), and mother Julia (Lena Headey, Game of Thrones) run in their home town. But Merchant’s film grabs onto their second-class lifestyle and champions it as a banner of the common-folk. They may not have much, but they are perfectly content living in the dreams of one day making it to the big time.Fighting With My Family

Meanwhile, Saraya’s older brother Zack (Jack Lowden, Mary Queen of Scots), who fights under the stage name of Zack Zodiac and who was denied the opportunity to try out for the WWE, is left back home in Norwich, England where he seethes in the misery of knowing that his sister was selected but he wasn’t.

There is really nothing new or original about the story Merchant tells. He runs through most of the sports comedy tropes while interweaving loads of heart and soul into his true-life drama that speaks to the family’s – and our’s – independent spirit. And that is where Fighting With My Family finds its greatest success. Unlike most sports movies, none of the emotions feel fake or forced, no matter how silly the subject matter. But his story about desire, familial dysfunction, broken dreams, hard work, success, and learning to be yourself delivers a smackdown to our emotions.

4 stars

Fighting With My Family

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Universal Studios
Available on Blu-ray
- May 14, 2019
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
Subtitles
: English SDH; French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French (Canada): DTS 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set; iTunes digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Universal scores another knockout blow with its Director's Cut / Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD edition of the biographical sports comedy/drama film Fighting With My Family. The film's theatrical release caught a lot of people off guard with its big heart and independent spirit, so here's your chance to celebrate your weirdness in 1080p.

Hopefully the film will find an even greater appreciation on home video with the blu-ray edition that comes with a director's cut of the film, an audio commentary from writer/direct Stephen Merchant, and plenty of bonus materials.

Video

Though a bit soft in some scenes, Universal's 1080p 2.40:1 handling is an expertly crafted transfer that looks and feels absolutely fabulous - particularly in the well-lit daytime scenes. Some of the more dimly-lit interior scenes (particularly in the grungy backroom rings) lack the tack-sharp clarity we see in other scenes, but one might be picking nits to say that this release isn't darn-near perfect with brilliant colors, a consistent palette, and perfectly saturated skin tones throughout.

Audio

Fighting With My Family is a noisy film with actors screaming their lines, large roaring crowds rocking arenas, and a raucous soundtrack that peppers the room with piercing 5.1 surround. There is a lot of front-and-center dialogue that is always clear and audible, but if you want to give your home theater system a good workout, pop in the disc and skip to the Wrestlemania chapter. It is loud and unruly with anxiety-inducing crowd noise, thumping music, and an abundance of foley effects that shake the room and really get that subwoofer up and running.

Supplements:

It is clear that Universal has given the film its tender loving care with the addition of a director's cut of the film that oddly runs with the same screen time as the theatrical cut. There is also a fascinating commentary track, a gag reel and several featurettes that round out this disc to perfection. Wrestling fan or no, this is definitely one blu-ray release you'll want to own.

Commentary:

  • Writer/Director Stephen Merchant waxes poetic about his film and provides genuinely insightful commentary about the decisions he made.

Special Features:

  • Deleted Scenes. Six extended and/or deleted scenes: Zak Chases EZ - Extended; Sinner With the Knights - Extended; Heavy Lifting; You've Changed; Introducing Augustus Heights; Paige Talks Smack
  • Gag Reel (02:42) - A continuous running montage of outtakes, blooped lines, and ruined scenes. Actually quite entertaining.
  • A Family's Passion: A Making-of (08:53) - Dwayne Johnson and Merchant talk about the real-life documentary that inspired the film. The highlight of this feature is getting to meet the actual family that was the inspiration for the film. Each family member speaks to what it was like having actors portray their likeness in the film and each actor gets into what about the character inspired them to take the role.
  • Learning The Moves (03:18) - An interesting short that highlights the training and boot camp that the actors had to go through to learn how to be convincing in the ring.

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4/5 stars

Fighting With My Family

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual material, language throughout, some violence and drug content.
Runtime:
108 mins
Director
: Stephen Merchant
Writer:
Stephen Merchant
Cast:
Dwayne Johnson, Lena Headey, Vince Vaughn
Genre
: Biography | Comedy | Sport
Tagline:
Based on the Incredible True Story.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Paige, I myself have come from a wrestling family too. I know exactly what it means to you. But don't worry about being the next me. Be the first you."
Theatrical Distributor:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Official Site: https://www.fightingwithmyfamily.movie/
Release Date:
February 22, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 14, 2019.
Synopsis: FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY is a heartwarming comedy based on the incredible true story of WWE Superstar Paige™. Born into a tight-knit wrestling family, Paige and her brother Zak are ecstatic when they get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try out for WWE. But when only Paige earns a spot in the competitive training program, she must leave her family and face this new, cut-throat world alone. Paige’s journey pushes her to dig deep, fight for her family, and ultimately prove to the world that what makes her different is the very thing that can make her a star.

Fighting With My Family

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