THE family that dropkicks and piledrives together stays together in Stephen Merchant’s spandex-clad comedy drama.

Inspired by a real-life rags-to-riches fairytale, Fighting With My Family nelson holds our attention with a winning combination of angst, potty-mouthed humour and sentimentality.

Merchant’s film is a conventional underdog story, which traces a predictable path in the razzamatazz world of professional wrestling where musclebound heroes and snarling villains whip crowds into a frenzy with their carefully choreographed acrobatics.

A simple, heartwarming story unfolds during the glory days of John Cena and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson under the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) banner.

WWE branding is prominent throughout a life-affirming second half set in sun-kissed Florida but doesn’t obstruct Merchant from sketching his misfit characters in sufficient detail to mine salty humour from their confrontations.

Florence Pugh is instantly likeable as the self-confessed ‘freak’, who experiences the usual growing pains as she vies to become a supporting player in a multimillion-dollar ‘soap opera in spandex’.

Patrick Bevis (Nick Frost) turns his back on thieving to establish the World Association of Wrestling in Norwich with his wife Julia (Lena Headey).

They fight as Rowdy Ricky Knight and Sweet Saraya and encourage their wrestling-obsessed children Zak (Jack Lowden) and Saraya (Pugh) to resolve differences with a grapple. Zak and Saraya have their own wrestling alter egos – Zak Zodiac and Britani Knight – and harbour bold ambitions to perform in America.

WWE trainer Hutch Morgan (Vince Vaughn) invites the siblings to audition for their dream at the O2 Arena in London but only Saraya makes the cut.

She flies to Florida alone with a new stage name – Paige Knight – to prove her worth against body beautiful rivals as she struggles with self-esteem.

Fighting With My Family is infused with Merchant’s dry humour and he earns further laughs with an extended cameo from Johnson, playing himself with a twinkle in his eye.

End credits include home video footage of the real Paige Knight and her clan to illustrate where the script powerslams fact and somersaults into the realms of crowd-pleasing fiction.

RATING: 6.5/10