The Rock Just Produced a New Wrestling Movie and It Looks Great
Fighting With My Family, the latest movie from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s production company Seven Bucks, had its premiere at Sundance Film Festival this week, and will have a wider release in the United States on February 14. Here’s everything we know about the movie so far.
Fighting With My Family is based on the life story of WWE wrestler Paige.
Florence Pugh (Outlaw King, The Little Drummer Girl) plays Saraya, who would later assume the wrestling persona “Paige.” The film begins as a portrait of wrestling-obsessed family life in working class Norwich in the United Kingdom, then follows Paige as she moves to the States, where her goth sensibilities clash with that of her fellow female wrestlers, and builds to her climactic Divas Champion fight with AJ Lee at WWE Raw.
It’s not what you might expect from producer The Rock.
Dwayne Johnson is best known for going big in his movies, usually playing action heroes or broad comedy characters. And while Fighting With My Family is a comedy, it’s much smaller than what we’ve come to expect from him. The movie was made with a budget of just $11 million, co-financed by WWE, and is much quirkier than Johnson’s other projects, thanks in no small part to a script by Stephen Merchant, who also directs.
It’s been a Rock-y road to release
Because the film is such a departure from Johnson’s brand, Seven Bucks had some trouble finding a distributor, which led to it being screened at Sundance Film Festival. “We wanted a studio to buy into it, and no one did,” Johnson told The Hollywood Reporter at the festival. “We got passed on everywhere. It was a small British comedy about a crazy wrestling family that wasn’t famous.” Dany Garcia, Johnson’s co-CEO at Seven Bucks, added that he believes there is still a “certain stigma” around portraying wrestling in film compared to other sports.
The Rock only plays a relatively small role.
This is Paige’s story, and so Johnson steps away from the spotlight in Fighting With My Family, playing himself in a cameo which mirrors true events. But don’t worry, the film is rounded out by a great overall cast, including writer and director Merchant, Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), Vince Vaughn (True Detective), and Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz).
Fighting With My Family is garnering good reviews.
Critical response to the film at Sundance has been largely positive, with Variety’s Dennis Harvey calling Fighting With My Family as “probably the best of the 50-odd movies WWE has produced since 2002’s The Scorpion King,” a feat he credits to “the warmth and good humor Merchant brings to the material, as well as the excellent cast.”
Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly’s Leah Greenblatt calls the film “a goofy WWE comedy with heart,” saying: “Most of Fighting’s narrative moves are as choreographed as any undercard match—and the outcome as clearly forecast—but the tears brought on by the movie’s last ten minutes of rhinestoned Rocky triumph taste salty, and real.”
The consensus seems to be that there is something here for WWE aficionados and average filmgoers alike. “The wrestling fans floated out fo the theaters,” Johnson said after the festival premiere. “And the non-wrestling fans, the ones who have a bit more heightened taste in terms of their movies, they were just pleasantly surprised.”
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