wrestling / Video Reviews

You Cannot Kill David Arquette Review

August 24, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
You Cannot Kill David Arquette
8.5
The 411 Rating
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You Cannot Kill David Arquette Review  

Directed by: David Darg and Price James

Starring:
David Arquette
Christina McLarty Arquette
Patricia Arquette
Rosanna Arquette
Richmond Arquette
Courteney Cox
Coco Arquette
Diamond Dallas Paige
Nick Gage
Ken Anderson
Jack “Jungle Boy” Perry
Luke Perry
Brian Knobbs
Eric Bischoff

Running Time: 90 minutes
Not Rated

You see the world differently when you’re a fan of professional wrestling. That’s not a good thing or a bad thing; it’s just how it is. The unique nature of sports entertainment gives fans a lens to see things through that stands on its own, and that includes how we view people of note. For us, Floyd Mayweather’s biggest knockout was The Big Show at WrestleMania. Jeremy Piven is the guy who called SummerSlam “Summerfest” on WWE television one time. And Pete Rose’s biggest nemesis isn’t the head of the Baseball Hall of Fame; it’s WWE star Kane.

And if there’s a clearer example of how wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans see things differently than David Arquette, I don’t know what it is. For most people Arquette is the actor best known for the Scream franchise, his marriage to and divorce from Courteney Cox, and perhaps his public battle with alcoholism. But wrestling fans, Arquette is indelibly linked to the downward spiral and eventual death of World Championship Wrestling due to his being given the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in 2000 as a tie into the wrestling comedy Ready to Rumble. Arquette stands for many fans as one of the worst examples of celebrity involvement in wrestling and, while the decision to win the title was not his (and one he actively opposed), his reign has been considered a black eye on the business for 20 years.

Arquette made headlines when he decided to try returning to the ring in 2018, with many questioning the decision to say the least. That journey is chronicled in David Darg and Price James’ You Cannot Kill David Arquette, available in drive-in theaters now and on Digital/VOD starting August 28th, in which the actor tries to walk the difficult road of earning respect within the industry as an outsider. The result is a film that is curious, often difficult to watch, but ultimately a fascinating and enthralling experience that turns the actor into sort of the quintessential underdog hero.

The documentary as laid out by Darq and James seeks to inform those not familiar with wrestling about the David Arquette that fans of the squared circle know, while examining the toll that Arquette’s involvement with WCW had on his career and reputation. While it may seem strange to outsiders, it’s actually difficult to quantify how hated Arquette was for winning the title, and the film lays it out pretty effectively via montage interviews and the like.

The decision didn’t just harm Arquette’s reputation among wrestling fans though. Arquette and Cox (who are now divorced, but amicable) talk how the decision hurt his career in Hollywood, and former WCW President Eric Bischoff and others talk about how it was not his call. WWE Hall of Famer Diamond Dallas Page, who worked closely with Arquette during the WCW debacle, is among those who point out later in the doc how Arquette protested the decision. But there’s no turning back the clock and as the documentary progresses, we see how Arquette has found a new mission to earn the respect of a wrestling fanbase that he has always considered himself a part of.

In one respect, the film represents an extreme underdog story. No one thinks of David Arquette as the kind of guy who would make it as a wrestling star, and especially not at the age he’s now at. That’s where the other aspect of the film steps in, serving as a look at the toll that stardom can have on a guy like Arquette.

Everything in the film would seem to present his goal as delusional. His wife Christina McLarty warmly refers to him as another kid in the household along with his three actual kids. His backyard contains giant pieces of furniture that, when he he’s seen sitting in them, makes him look like the adult kid that he is.

And yet, as he progresses, the film does an excellent job of getting the audience behind him. Part of it is the depth of the struggle that he goes through. From his battle with depression and extreme anxiety to his addiction issues and struggle to be respected in both his two chosen careers, Arquette has a lot stacked against him. It’s difficult to watch footage like his being given Ketamine to deal with his depression issues and not feel sympathy for him.

Similarly, when you see how much he wants to get respect from wrestling fans and the way that he’s treated, it’s hard not to want to see him succeed. The filmmakers follow him through some real lows, including a being turned away from a wrestling show and getting an invite to a backyard wrestling event which is truly, truly backyard and sees a bunch of punks who hopefully never work for a wrestling company of value essentially lure him in so they can beat the crap out of him with hardcore implements up to and including the infamous light tubes.

That’s where the second part of this film’s success in getting us behind Arquette comes into play, namely Arquette himself. It’s abundantly clear from the beginning that Arquette doesn’t just see this quest as a way to get some headlines. While he goes about it the wrong way at first, his irrepressible spirit shines through. Even the most callous of wrestling fans will likely find themselves rooting for him as he seeks training, works with luchadors in Mexico and begins to get in shape. McLarty and Arquette and Cox’s daughter Coco become audience representations of a sort in the film; as perplexed as they are throughout most of the film by his desire to do this, they end up coming on board and back him in every way.

The filmmakers build the documentary with those classic underdog story beats, right up and including a late-stage setback involving a match against Nick Gage that wrestling fans will be well familiar with. It all builds toward the hope of a completed redemption arc and along the way we get a lot of insight into who Arquette is. By the end, whether Arquette becomes a wrestling success seems less important, because he’s already won the viewer over. And that might be the biggest achievement of the actor’s re-entry into the world of pro wrestling.

You Cannot Kill David Arquette is available in drive-in theaters now and on Digital/VOD starting August 28th, 2020.

8.5
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
For some, You Cannot Kill David Arquette might seem to be making an unwinnable case as it seeks to cast David Arquette as the ultimate underdog seeking respect in the wrestling world he once became hated in. But thanks to Arquette's nature and the work of David Darg and Price James, it succeeds in elevating its subject to a new level. Arquette is a compelling figure throughout and his story is a captivating one, even if it's hard to watch from time to time. Darg and James lay it on perhaps a bit heavy with the editing and music choices, but otherwise this is one of the more inspiring and emotional engaging documentaries (unlikely as that may be) as you could see this year so far.
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