THE STORY – Actor David Arquette returns to the professional wrestling ring for a series of matches.
THE CAST – David Arquette, Patricia Arquette, Rosanna Arquette, Richmond Arquette, Courteney Cox & Ric Flair
THE TEAM – David Darg & Price James (Directors/Writers)
THE RUNNING TIME – 90 Minutes
By Tom O’Brien
Despite the documentary’s provocative title, “You Cannot Kill David Arquette” is a surprisingly sympathetic documentary focusing on how the actor is managing his eclectic career. Primarily known to audiences as the goofy Deputy Dewey Riley in the “Scream” series of films, Arquette has recently been going through a dry spell in terms of roles. As he notes in the film, he has been auditioning for different kinds of parts in the past 10 years with little success.
If there’s one thing that gnaws at him, however, it’s the perception that, in professional wrestling circles, he’s seen as a traitor to the sport. This dates back to 2000 when Arquette, a huge pro wrestling fan, was on the press circuit promoting his wrestling-based movie, “Ready to Rumble”. Given the fact that Warner Bros., which was releasing the film, owned Turner Broadcasting, home of the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) franchise, a crossover promotion seemed like the perfect fit. The only problem was that Vince Russo, the head writer for the WCW storylines, wanted Arquette to win the WCW Championship in a Sudden Deathmatch.
Arquette, who, as a fan, knew that a pretender to the WCW throne would enrage fellow fans, asked if he couldn’t win the title, but Russo was adamant. In support of the film, Arquette reluctantly agreed, but just what he feared actually happened: Arquette as WCW champion became both a joke and a pariah in the wrestling world.
In 2019, he decides to rehabilitate his reputation among wrestling fans by working his way up and grappling in matches at the lowest level (backyard wrestling), with opponents who hate him making sure to knock the crap out of him. But he’s determined to carry on, and the bloodied Arquette’s quest finally comes to the attention of wrestling legend Diamond Dallas Page who agrees to train him properly with some Lucha libre wrestlers from Mexico. Will this be enough to salvage Arquette’s reputation among wrestling fans?
What broadens the appeal of the film is Arquette’s attempt to explain his concern with his wrestling reputation to his sisters, Oscar-winner Patricia and BAFTA-winner Rosanna. His sisters are baffled by his obsession, but nonetheless support their brother in whatever crazy scheme he’s involved in.
The filmmaking skills by co-directors David Darg and Price James are okay, still leaning largely on the charisma of the film’s subject. I can understand how audiences might be turned off by Arquette’s “manboy” obsession with regaining his reputation in the wrestling world, but as a pro wrestling fan of a certain age, I loved the behind-the-scenes look at how the wrestling storylines are shaped and how Arquette’s dilemma is portrayed.
“You Cannot Kill David Arquette” is a film that’s designed for a certain niche audience, but if you’re in that niche, I suspect you’re going to love it.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – A surprisingly empathetic look at David Arquette, an actor who has been typecast as a goofball in films but who is determined to rehabilitate his perceived image as a traitor to professional wrestling – all this at age 46.
THE BAD – If you have little interest in the ins and outs of professional wrestling (such as its soap opera-like scripting), this film may have minimal appeal.