David Arquette’s tenure in wrestling is well-documented and still talked about more than 20 years since he infamously won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. His new film, You Cannot Kill David Arquette, chronicles his journey back to the squared circle in an attempt to right some past wrongs and redeem himself in the wrestling world.
One downside to his WCW run was that his star-powered waned in Hollywood, and Arquette even states in the film that he’s been typecast as a wacky guy and hasn’t really been able to land a serious role in a decade. Arquette’s health issues and battles with depression and anxiety are also shown, including a memorable (and emotional) episode where he has a reaction to ketamine during a supervised treatment to help with depression in a doctor’s office. If it wasn’t enough, Arquette’s heart condition due to a recent heart attack is another roadblock in his way, but his determination to earn respect from the wrestling community and understand the business a bit more is what pushes the film ahead.
Being part of the joke isn’t as painful as being the joke
Arquette began his ‘comeback tour’ about two years ago and it was met with a mixed reaction. Some fans and pundits will still trash him for ‘disrespecting’ the championship and the wrestling business, but Arquette comes off as someone quite the opposite of what critics say about him. Arquette’s passion for the wrestling business is evident in the film, especially when talking about how he became a fan and what kept him hooked.
Arquette’s journey takes him to wrestling school and across North America, with the film showing him training in a barn in Virginia, a backyarder ring and the streets of Mexico. Before long, we see how his respective relationships with Peter Avalon and RJ City were formed, and how the ‘feud’ with City really propelled him to the next level of his career. There are plenty of feel-good moments throughout the film but we also see some upsetting parts, including one notable segment coming at a wrestling convention Arquette was booked for. First, we are shown some crowd reactions to what Arquette meant to the wrestling business, and one group rips on him for ‘disrespecting the business’ before he approaches their merchandise booth.
If you didn’t think he took wrestling seriously before, you really get to a first-hand look at the physical and mental transformation he underwent to prove himself, including losing 50 pounds after he quit smoking and drinking. Arquette never came off as anything but genuine and sincere in the film, and if you didn’t know from the multiple shoot interviews over the years, he didn’t even want to be WCW Champion.
I’m a carny at heart. I’m a carny.
If you are someone who followed Arquette’s conquest of the independent scene over the last couple of years, You Cannot Kill David Arquette still provides a ton of material to learn from. Arquette made headlines for his near-death experience in a match with Nick Gage, and the aftermath of that is highlighted here, including being rushed to the hospital. The incident was not only physically transformative for Arquette, but it was emotional too as we see how that affected his family as well.
The tone is back and forth, highlighting Arquette’s humorous personality and the battle inside his own head as well as with winning wrestling fans’ respect. Ultimately, it feels like Arquette has people’s admiration and it feels earned, as his film and wrestling career comes full-circle, figuratively and literally. If you are just a fan of his work in general, want to see a feel-good story or see another aspect of the wrestling business, You Cannot Kill David Arquette will leave you satisfied. Arquette isn’t just an actor pretending to wrestle, he is a wrestler.
If there are any complaints about the film, it’s that it’s not long enough, clocking in around 90 minutes. (That, and not enough scenes with RJ City) I would have liked to have seen more in-ring action and more with his family since one of the film’s greatest strengths is that he’s sharing this journey with his wife, children and extended family.
As seen in the film, he earns the respect of fans and other workers in the business, and it’s a gratifying feeling to know he can be proud of himself for turning things around. You Cannot Kill David Arquette is authentic, heartwarming and serves as a redemption story for a guy who just loves the wrestling business. Hopefully, Arquette can finally shed the reputation of being a guy that “led to WCW’s demise” and find peace with what he’s accomplished in and out of the ring. As for fans of wrestling, hopefully, they can finally see Arquette for who he is as a dedicated guy that shares their love for the wrestling business instead of who he isn’t.
You Cannot Kill David Arquette is now playing in drive-in theaters and it will be released on digital and on-demand services now.
Recommended viewing: ‘You Cannot Kill David Arquette’