You Cannot Kill David Arquette Blu-ray Review

In 2008, I was blown away by Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, a gut-punchingly powerful story of failure, redemption, and the fickleness of fame.

One of The Wrestler’s strongest points is that it featured Mickey Rourke, a big star of the eighties, who left acting for about four years to pursue a professional boxing career. All of this lent an air of authenticity to Rourke’s performance as a wrestler trying to find his way back to the spotlight of fame or, at the very least, self-respect.

Poetically, Rourke’s real-life fame as an actor was given a jolt by his central performance.

The Wrestler also focussed on the wrestling profession in the United States, mainly on the non-professional circuit where the fandom is particularly intense.

So why am I talking about The Wrestler so much?

It’s hard not to draw comparisons with new documentary You Cannot Kill David Arquette. Like Aronofsky’s film, the documentary focuses on wrestling, on an attempt at redemption, and on the reliance of fans.

For those unfamiliar with Arquette’s story, you may be surprised to learn that, nearly twenty years ago, the Scream star dipped his toe in the waters of professional wrestling. The move coincided with Arquette’s starring role in 2000’s Ready to Rumble, a film which focussed on World Championship Wrestling (WCW).

Arquette’s real-life foray into wrestling resulted in him becoming the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. He held the title for about two weeks.

Still, victory for a non-wrestler was enough to get the WCW fans’ backs up, and after years of being trolled for winning the title, Arquette trained for a return to professional wrestling in 2018. The intention was to redeem himself in the eyes of the fans and himself, and the documentary chronicles this journey.

Sounds quirky, right? Stranger than fiction, right?

Well, a lot has happened since 2018, including many real-life events which are also stranger than fiction, giving stiff competition to Arquette’s story.

Maybe if Arquette was running for president, whilst steering his big cat breeding business through a global pandemic, this documentary might have the edge on everything else out there.

Once you get used to the incongruity of the Sheriff from Scream repeatedly climbing into wrestling rings, the novelty wears off and it is difficulty to truly connect with the story.

It does have its moments: we are reminded that Arquette appeared in Vanity Fair’s 1996 Hollywood issue alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith and Matthew McConaughey. Now, he says he hasn’t picked up a job in ten years, and the raw pain is evident.

There is also an incident during one of Arquette’s comeback matches, when he is clearly genuinely injured and you fear for his wellbeing.

These are the moments, alongside interviews with fans, when the documentary is most effective, and when it feels like reality can be glimpsed through the choreography. The rest of the time, it just feels like a publicity stunt revisiting a publicity stunt.

As a documentary, it feels less authentic than Aronofsky’s 2008 work of fiction, but is mildly diverting and might appeal to fans of either Arquette or wrestling.

Conor Brennan

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November 2020