Fighting With My Family Blu-ray Review
The young champion wrestler who ushered in the Women's Revolution gets her very own origin story
Fighting With My Family Review
Stephen Merchant's origin story of WWE wrestler Paige manages to tell a familiar underdog outsider story with heart, wit and conviction.The path of the underdog has been well trodden, perhaps most iconically in Rocky, but wrestling is a somewhat underserved arena, with only really The Wrestler - Darren Aronofsky's outstanding drama which Mickey Rourke really should have won the Oscar for - standing out.
Fighting With My Family charts a particularly unusual rise, with a struggling Norwich-born family, who runs a small wresting club, pitching for tryouts. When daughter Paige gets a shot at the big time, she finds out it is going to be a lot harder than expected, punishing her physically and putting pressure on her psychologically. Finding herself a long way from her family and surrounded by Barbie girl models she does not trust and unforgiving crowds who are all too quick to boo at her, particularly for her alternative Goth look, Paige wonders whether she truly has what it takes to become the next Rock.
On paper, there's nothing really new here, but the writer/director infuses it with so much genuine heart and wit that it feels remarkably fresh
On paper, there's nothing really new about Stephen "The Office" Merchant's core story here, but the writer/director - making his solo directorial debut after decades co-writing (and even co-directing Cemetery Junction) with Ricky Gervais - infuses it with so much genuine heart and surprisingly broad-spectrum wit that it feels remarkably fresh and feelgood. It must have been tough writing great lines for both Nick Front and Vince Vaughn, both funnier than they've been in years, and giving them more than just one-dimensional characters to play too. Game of Thrones' Lena Headey and Jack Lowden (Netflix's Calibre) round out the cast, whilst Dwayne Johnson - who co-produced it - unsurprisingly affords the film some of its most memorable (albeit historically fictitious) moments. It's Florence Pugh who owns the lead role, however. Gradually building up quite the resume with BBC's The Little Drummer Girl, Netflix's The Outlaw King, and, upcoming, Ari Aster's Hereditary follow-up Midsommar, and the Black Widow film, Pugh plays a nicely rounded character here who isn't without her own flaws, and you're right there with her for this tough journey.
Merchant has crafted an engaging, enjoyable ride which, whilst hardly doing anything different, still manages to feel different, carrying you through on wit and warmth and organic characterisation, and translating his heart and humour to the international stage too. Hardly spectacularly groundbreaking, it's still well worth a watch, and a strong solo debut.
Fighting With My Family Blu-ray PictureFighting With My Family comes to UK Region B-locked Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate, delivering a strong, arguably hard-to-fault 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. Although hardly an obvious choice for demo material, the film looks very good indeed.
Although hardly an obvious choice for demo material, the film looks very good indeed
Detail is largely excellent throughout, picking up on the Norwich (and Bracknell) -shot backdrops; worn-out estates, beaten-up vans and a grungy wrestling club, before shifting gears for the stunning US locales, beaches, pools and glitzy WWE stages. Clarity remains strong, rendering superior skin textures, clothing and costume weaves and background nuances.
The colour scheme enjoys the myriad locations, from the cooler, more grey-cloud-swept UK locales to sunnier West Coast climes, rendering strong black levels (a mainstay for Paige herself) and some strong tones in between, and balancing the UK/US look as well as it does the respective humour. As stated, it's hardly an obvious demo choice, but it does a damn good job nonetheless.
Fighting With My Family Blu-ray SoundThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track does a stand up job too, balancing small-scale, but often rather rowdy, family conversations and confrontations, with more expansive bustling crowds, plus quieter tracks with training montage beats.
A very good audio track
Dialogue remains well-prioritised across the frontal array, afforded clarity and coherence, and taking in myriad accents in the process, whilst expanding out to offer a more immersive quality during the wrestling setpieces, which are pretty authentic, particularly as they get bigger in scale. Growling van noises; slapping body blows; the thump of landing in the ring, there's some nice surround usage here, with even a little LFE oomph to underpin it. The score takes in a few nice song tracks and embraces the kind-hearted, dry-witted and sincere tone of the piece, rounding out a very good accompanying audio track.
Fighting With My Family Blu-ray ExtrasA number of decent extras are included on this release, and whilst there's no sign of the US 'Director's Cut', this may be due to the fact that the film was cut for a couple of seconds of bad language to secure a PG-13 rating; cuts which may not have translated across the pond - either that or Lionsgate did not want to get the second version rated and then release it on disc as a '15'.
A number of decent extras
The headlining feature is an Audio Commentary from writer/director Stephen Merchant, whilst we get a couple of nice little Featurettes - a general making-of and one more focused on the wrestling training - as well as a selection of Deleted and Extended Scenes (some of which are quite funny) and an even more funny Gag Reel.
Fighting With My Family Blu-ray VerdictWell worth a watch, and a strong solo debut
Fighting With My Family comes to UK shores on a Region B-locked Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate, earning itself excellent video and very good audio, as well as a strong selection of extra features, leaving it a very good release for fans to pick up, and a movie that's certainly worth checking out for those interested.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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