While it passes the time pleasantly enough, you’re always aware that you’re watching a movie with something like this. There’s something artificial that draws attention to itself, whether it be the casting – Lena Headey, what?!- or the familiarity (bordering on relentless predictability) of the script. The biggest surprise, oddly, is that its all based on a true story. Maybe this is just one of those wild true stories that feels so crazy its something only Hollywood could come up with- the irony that its about something as scripted and false as the sport of wrestling/entertainment is no doubt a big part of it. One of the best parts of the film for me is when one of the characters just openly admits everything is written and set-up, but that the magic is that the fans in the audience are in on it, too, so the trick is in the sincerity.
Sadly though that’s a trick the film, curiously, fails to pull off. It never convinces, always feels insincere, always lacks an edge. I was always aware of the construction going on behind the scenes, the predictability of the character arcs etc – so much so that the film quite quickly became quite boring as a piece of entertainment. You just know whats going to happen so far ahead that by the mid-point you really don’t need to actually see the rest. Characters initially at odds will become freinds, the life-lesson story told by the coach is clearly going to be revealed to be autobiographical, the crisis of a brothers failed dreams will be replaced by reevaluation of his self-worth and new dreams. Our heroine will be victorious and vindicate everyone’s belief in her.
In that sense, there is something comfortingly reassuring about a film like this- its perfect rainy Sunday-afternoon viewing, I suppose, but that’s quite a damning view in itself, considering the talent involved – alongside Headey, there’s Florence Pugh, Nick Frost, Dwayne Johnson, Vince Vaughn in front of the camera and Stephen Merchant behind it. In that respect this film is a crushing bore and disappointment, tempered by the knowledge that, well, what else could one really expect from something like this?
Fighting With My Family is currently streaming on Netflix in the UK.