Film Review: An actor’s career, redemption, and life are on the ropes in ‘You Cannot Kill David Arquette’
When you hear the name David Arquette, you might think of the actor from the Scream franchise. You might think of the Hollywood wrestler who won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in 2000, a fluke and an absurdity to many in the wrestling community. You might think of the ex-husband of Courteney Cox and the brother to constant award-winner Patricia Arquette. Arquette’s career has spanned several decades, minor peaks and the deepest valleys, lost titles, and possibly wasted potential. After watching You Cannot Kill David Arquette, you’ll think he might be all of those things, and so much more.
I don’t remember the 2000 Slamboree event. I’m not a big wrestling fan, but thousands do recall the event, admonishing it as a farce. Wrestlers and fans alike held a certain level of outrage over Arquette, a non-trained actor attempting to wrestle, winning the championship belt, stealing it from those that work for decades to be in the spotlight. As seen in the documentary, Arquette thought he was honoring the sport. He’s been a fan since he was a kid. He’s always loved it, always wanted to be a part of it, and always hoped he would have the chance that came in 2000. He didn’t realize, expect, or ever want to anger anyone. It’s not in his nature.
Over a decade goes by and Arquette’s acting career hasn’t bloomed. Expectations were high, and he was briefly in the same class as rising stars like Matthew McConaughey and Leonardo DiCaprio. Things didn’t pan out for the actor, though, instead pushing him to the seams of film society, making small appearances in mid-size movies, and big appearances in those that went straight to video, straight to streaming, or never saw the light (or darkness) of a movie theater. Arquette’s alcoholism has made news, so has his divorce with Cox. HIs acting, and his wrestling, rarely seems to breach the surface of pop culture.
Interview: David Arquette on the challenging, painful, necessary journey of ‘You Cannot Kill David Arquette’
In You Cannot Kill David Arquette, as directors David Darg and Price James chronicle his wrestling career over the last five years, and his attempts to get his life back on track in a variety of ways. It’s an intimate documentary, one made possible due to the director’s closeness to their subject. Arquette’s failures are put on display, as well as his successes, which he finds only after lots of inner and outer pain. One aspect stays the same: you want Arquette to succeed. Sometimes, you need him to succeed. His story is one that resonates: a person looks for redemption and validation from those around him, and those that don’t even know him. By the end of the film, he finds a semblance of it.
The film deserves praise for its attachment and warmth to Arquette. As an executive producer of the doc, Arquette isn’t afraid to show himself slipping up, falling into old, bad habits. And it lives up to the title. You almost see Arquette actually die. You know it won’t happen, but it shows just how quickly a life, and a need for validity, can spiral out of control. It morphs into a testament to hard work and commitment, though, as you watch the actor turn into a legitimate wrestler, one willing to travel to places and lengths to be worthy. Arquette demonstrates his value, too, and you start having as much fun as he’s having, even giving you reason to watch wrestling highlights after the credits roll.
You Cannot Kill David Arquette rests in the hands of its tragic hero, a man who sometimes seems incapable of letting go of the past, stopping to enjoy the present, or considering the future. It even gives time to his friendship with the late Luke Perry, and his relationship to Jack Perry, Luke’s son and a formidable wrestler in his own right. It follows Arquette as he fights in traffic, in backyards, in basements, and in front of thousands of screaming fans. You might not like Arquette, but he deserves admiration for his attempts at an unlikely comeback. He’s a man that hopes to be respected, but wants to be liked. He’s human, and the film puts this humanity, warts and all, on full display.
You Cannot Kill David Arquette is a Super LTD release currently on demand where streaming is available.