Based on the true story of Raya Knight (also known as “Paige”) who became the youngest World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Divas’ Champion in history, this movie combines an underdog sports story with humor and emotion. Raya Knight’s popularity and influence helped usher in the “women’s revolution” in professional wrestling.
Comedian/writer/director Stephen Merchant wrote a funny, real, and endearing biopic. It’s a gentle introduction into the world of professional wrestling but one that also honors the passionate fans. You pretty much know going into it how the story is going to end, so I was surprised to get teary-eyed in the end.
Even if you’re not a professional wrestling fan, you can still appreciate the journey of persistence and reaching for your dream. It’s moderately family-friendly entertainment and will make for a fun family movie night once it’s out on DVD. It’s currently in theaters.
IS IT ANY GOOD? B
Florence Pugh gives a knock-out performance as Paige and Nick Frost is hilarious as her father, Ricky Knight. The non-traditional family dynamic is very sweet. The brother/sister relationship is very touching and gives the movie its emotional depth. You get to see video clips of the real people at the end of the movie. The Knight family actually has another daughter who is not a wrestler. She’s currently a dentist and wasn’t featured in the movie.
The movie starts with footage of “The Rock” in his fighting days. If you’re a fan of Dwayne Johnson, you’ll get a kick out of his speech to Paige and Zak. He doesn’t get a lot of screen time, despite the movie poster that makes it look like he stars in the film, but his role is important in motivating character development. There’s also footage of some of the other great wrestlers through the years.
The thick British accents might make it difficult for Americans to understand some of the dialogue. British actress Lena Headey had a hard time with that ring stuck in her lip and her mouth was always making weird expressions. The ending felt a bit rushed, but the movie was all about the journey anyway.
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS? (PG-13)
Some profanity and crude language.
A young man tosses drugs into a garbage bin and an older woman sees it and retrieves it for herself.
A blind teenage boy flips the bird.
Talk of a boy getting aroused.
A man throws a heavy ball at another man’s genitals.
A guy and girl have a baby out of wedlock.
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
When Paige meets The Rock for the first time, she and her brother want him to give them some advice so they can be like him. He wisely counsels, “Don’t worry about being the next ‘me. Be the first YOU.” Paige spends the movie trying to discover exactly who she is. She feels like an outsider and just wants to belong. She also tries to decide what it is she really wants in life. It’s a bit of a coming-of-age tale about reaching for your dream.
Another insightful storyline was about Paige’s brother who didn’t get the dream he wanted, a frustrating reality many people have to learn to live with. Paige points out to him that the work he does by teaching kids is truly meaningful. She reminds him, “Just because millions of people aren’t cheering when you do it, doesn’t mean it’s not important.” That’s a powerful lesson.
For another powerful film about family and fighting, you HAVE to see Warrior, in which two estranged brothers meet at the MMA finals. Rent or buy it here.
Trina Boice is an author of 23 books and teaches online for BYU-Idaho in the Pathway program. She received the Young Mother of the Year honor in 2004, an award that completely amuses her 4 sons. She’s a popular international speaker in China and writes movie reviews atwww.MovieReviewMom.com. You can find her books on Amazon, and at www.TrinasBooks.com