This is the true story of a Norwich-based family with wrestle-mania who all dream of fighting in WWE.
Brother and sister Zak and Saraya (Jack Lowden and Florence Pugh) compete in tryouts for the wrestling franchise, supported by mother Julia (Lena Headey) and their very own Big Daddy Patrick (Nick Frost). On the way they meet Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but anyone hoping for a Norwich-set Rock vehicle where he scales Norwich castle or survives a giant earthquake on Carrow Road will be deeply disappointed as his appearance is little more than an extended cameo.
Fighting With My Family isn’t your conventional competition movie, partly because the sport they’re competing in is fixed, and partly because it devotes almost as much time to the family in Norwich as to Saraya training in Florida. This is good because it’s the more interesting side of the film.
The family are believable and easy to warm to in spite of being rough around the edges and consumed by a bizarre and unfathomable obsession with a grim sport I just don’t get. Pugh is a plucky lead, and her family relationships, in particular with her brother, stop this from being another cookie cutter sports movie. Real-life Saraya wanted to be a zoologist before getting the wrestling bug, which ironically means she could have ended up working for the WWF either way.
Unsurprisingly there’s not a Norfolk accent to be found, with the family members sounding like they’re from either London or Bristol (you would have thought Gloucestershire director Stephen Merchant would be able to hear the difference). But this is hardly a new-phenomenon for a Norfolk based film or TV show, and it makes up for it with excellent views of Norwich, particularly from the scenic mound between Gurney Road and Kett’s Hill.
The end result is a film which is mildly amusing rather than hilarious, but the best Norwich-set comedy since Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.