We recently attended an exclusive preview of the movie Fighting With My Family in New York City and meet with the cast and director afterward for a question-and-answer session.
Fighting With My Family, a new film about a wrestling family featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, appeals to all sports fans who love inspirational stories. This one tugs at your heart strings and has you cheering throughout. My family scored it a nine out of 10 because it was engaging, humorous and left us tingling with delight as we exited the theater. For those of you with younger children, Fighting With My Family carries a PG-13 rating which should not be a major worry. It seems based on the small dose of cursing rather than violence.
This moving film is based on a true story about World Wrestling Entertainment Divas champ Paige. It’s an emotional tale about family and relationships. Fighting With My Family introduces us to the father (Nick Frost) dabbling in amusing stunts to boost his struggling wrestling academy in England, while navigating his role as a father to two talented wrestlers struggling to achieve their dreams. The brother/sister relationship was a powerful and relateable one. Older brother Zak (Jack Lowden) and his sister Raya/Paige (Florence Pugh) initially have an ironclad bond that gets trampled when he gets passed over for a golden opportunity. Meanwhile, his sister gets selected for her big break — traveling abroad to Miami to train with wrestling’s NXT (a farm system for WWE Main Events). Their relationship flows impressively through this success story. It’s sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes inspirational especially at the end when we needed tissues.
Prepare to be thrilled by Johnson’s hilarious, supporting role as well as lots of WWE cameos throughout the film. Bravo to Raya/Paige’s NXT coach, Hutch (Vince Vaughn), because his insults, presence, and motivation ensured that the audience never loses interest. Additionally, the powerful messaging and life lessons woven into this film add the spice that makes this indie style film sizzle. As Johnson points out, “Don’t try to be like me. Be the first you.”
This particular lesson is later reiterated during a Q&A with the stars from the Fighting With My Family (see more highlights below) where WWE’s Paige enthusiastically said, “Being yourself is your superpower. Always stay true to yourself.” That poignant message made for great fodder for my son and I to discuss afterward.
Based on an incredible true story, Fighting With My Family opened in select theaters Feb. 14, and everywhere else Feb. 22. We recommend you see it!
Exclusive Q&A with ‘Fighting with My Family’ director, cast
After the screening, my 10-year-old son and I were invited to the exclusive press junket for Fighting With My Family when the talented director and cast rolled into town. We wanted to share some highlights from the thoughtful conversation with actots Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Florence Pugh, and Jack Lowden, director Stephen Merchant and WWE Divas champ, Paige:
Q: How does it feel to go through so many hurdles and challenges and later success … and now seeing your story told through this lens and on such a massive platform?
WWE’s Paige: It’s bizarre because at the time (of my life ) you don’t realize how many obstacles you’re going through until it is being told on the big screen and Stephen Merchant did such an amazing job trying to capture everything as accurate as possible. But yeah, it’s very bizarre and very surreal and then sometimes I have to sit back and (reflect) she’s so good at what she does that I forget that Florence is playing me and I forget that it’s my story.
Q: Drawing on the fatherhood experience, what helped you shape the character and type of dad you were in the film thinking back and reflecting on the types of experiences you’ve had in your own life?
Actor Nick Frost (who play Rick): I have two kids and I think from my point of view, I would literally do anything to make sure that they were safe and happy. You can have a violent past and be in prison and make mistakes (like the character I’m portraying in the film) and be a good dad, those things aren’t mutually exclusive. I think once you know that Ricky is a rough, hard man who’s made mistakes but he is also a good kind man who’s a loving father.
Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to start out, like you guys who’ve never been in the ring and now you’ve had this opportunity. What would you say you should remember to do, not to do?
WWE’s Paige: Tuck your chin. When it comes to wrestling the first things, you’re going to be learning is to fall properly and that’s the best thing that can avoid a banged head, a little stinger. So always tuck your chin; I learned that straight away. And also in wrestling, I would say be patient because it isn’t just handed to you. It’s a lot harder than how it looks and the same thing that Dwayne Johnson tells everybody is to stay humble and hungry when it comes to wrestling. Humble because you want to be able to work with everybody and hungry because you don’t want to get complacent because that’s the biggest downfall.
I think part of the message of the film is that nothing is easy whether it’s wrestling or anything else. Doors will be closed in your face, people will sometimes say no, sometimes you won’t fit in, sometimes you will be rejected and you just have to keep moving forward. You know you have to keep taking the punches and if you are passionate about it you just keep plowing on and eventually the doors will open and that is certainly true of all of us in our careers. I’m sure we could all have individual stories of the times where it didn’t pan out so. It’s hard sometimes to remember that and you could give up, you could get depressed but I think it’s all of us and I think certainly Paige’s story is that just keep moving forward.
Q: I haven’t seen any wrestling movies before, and I really loved it. My question was what was the hardest scene to film?
Florence Pugh (who plays Raya/Paige): You know I’d say the hardest scenes were hard because you had to be so careful. For the wrestling scenes, we’d go all day for probably about three days in a row to try and complete this one little scene that probably flashes before your eyes in under 10 seconds. But we are wrestling and it’s serious stuff so everything had to go really slowly and we had to make sure that everybody was completely safe. We would start that fight in the morning and we probably got a quarter of the way through by the end of the day and those were probably be the longest.
Disclosure: NYC Dads Group received no compensation other than an invitation to an advanced screening and Q&A to facilitate the review. Thoughts and opinions are honest and haven’t been swayed by the complimentary experience.