Wrestling hasn’t been the same in the last decade, so what better way to relive the greatness with one of the more amazing but lesser known tales.
Based on the 2012 documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family, this dramatised version charts the career of professional wrestler Paige, who became the youngest wrestler to clinch WWE’s Divas Championship at 21 years old.
But this is not just any wrestling tale, as this biographical sports drama also features cameos and appearances from World Wresting Entertainment (WWE) personalities, like John Cena, Big Show, Sheamus and The Miz make appearances in the movie.
Dwayne Johnson himself, whom WWE fans will always refer to fondly as The Rock, also takes time off his busy schedule from blockbusters like Rampage and Skyscraper to produce this crowd-pleaser through Seven Bucks Productions, a film studio he co-created and founded. The superstar also takes on a supporting role in the movie and delivers his classic signature catchphrase with gusto in a hilarious scene, “If you smell!… What the Rock…Is… Cooking’!”
The story starts in England’s Norwich, where Saraya (Florence Pugh) and her brother Zak (Jack Lowden) live a simple life with their parents Patrick (Nick Frost) and Julia (Lena Headey). What’s special about this family is that everyone is a fan of wrestling, and they earn a living organising and taking part in amatuer wrestling matches. When an opportunity comes for Saraya and Zak to get a shot at gaining recognition on WWE’s shows, the drama begins when only one of them gets chosen.
No prizes for guessing that it is Saraya who makes the cut. She steps out of her comfort zone in England and moves on to seek her American dream. Like how a good ol’ fashioned sports drama plays out, she fights the challenges of being a misfit, loses herself in the process, become inspired after a huge setback, picks herself up, and eventually emerging victorious.
Although the story is largely predictable, the film wins viewers over with its genuine charm and humour. The sincerity comes amidst the clichés, and you will believe that it is possible to achieve your dream if you fight hard enough. The movie also takes a look at how responsibilities like parenthood can be translated to positive energy that brings people together.
The committed ensemble cast delivers wonderful performances. Pugh makes her character relatable by not overacting, while Lowden’s portrayal of an older sibling who has to juggle between adulthood and personal interests is painfully real. Frost (best known for his work in comedies like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), plays a father who brings his family through a common love for wrestling.
After her evil turn as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, Headey gets in touch with her maternal instinct by playing a mother who shows her affection, amidst the constant cursing and swearing. Elsewhere, Vince Vaughn (Hacksaw Ridge) plays a trainer with a bittersweet backstory.
Written and directed by Stephen Merchant, who is known for his work as the co-writer and co-director of the British version of The Office starring Ricky Gervais, Merchant made the right move to inject lots of good-natured British dry wit into the movie. Our favourite involves the interactions between the vulgar Frost and Headey and their uptight in-laws. Between laughs, there are also many heartwarming moments which fortunately do not come off as cheesy. You can feel the camaraderie between the trainees, the love in the family, and ultimately, the passion for pursuing your goals in life.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Heartwarming and funny, this is a WWE promotional vehicle that works. And fans would love the moment when Dwayne Johnson appears on screen, and hollers his classic line.
Story - 7.5/10
Direction - 8.5/10
Characterisation - 8/10
Geek Satisfaction - 8/10