In the entire myriad of weird collaborations, like Jack White and Alicia Keys, David Bowie and Bing Crosby, none have really seemed as much of a mismatch as the glitzy media sports-entertainment giant that is the WWE and the gangly, awkward erstwhile Gervais sideman Stephen Merchant. But it is Merchant who scripts and helms the latest WWE offering with the story of WWE Diva Paige from her roots in Norwich to the top table of the wrestling empire.
The film is titled Fighting With My Family and I was concerned that the film would be dominated by 'fighting' and the shallow but stylish bells and whistles of the WWE. However, Merchant shows that he's more than just an awkward face as he has written a script rich in British humour, heart and idiosyncrasies and it is 'Family' that dominates the themes of the film.
Nick Frost is wonderfully cast as the wrestling-obsessed family patriarch and Lena Headey shows there's more to her than Cersei Lannister as Frost's wife and mother of the two central characters, Paige and Zak. And it is the relationship between these two, wonderfully brought to life by Florence Pugh and Jack Lowden that carries the film and has you rooting for the best outcomes.
Vince Vaughn is fabulously strait-laced as the wrestling veteran turned youth coach and Dwayne Johnson revisits The Rock that made him famous. These two Hollywood stars rein themselves in with almost British sensibility, no doubt managed by Merchant in the director's chair.
The film is heartwarming and real in the best traditions of Richard Curtis and in choosing to ally with Stephen Merchant, the WWE have chosen to make the story the star which is the most pleasant surprise at all.
Dwayne Johnson and Vince Vaughn tone it down to great effect in Fighting With My Family