You Cannot Kill David Arquette comes at a time when the world is by no means lacking in wrestling related documentaries or even Hollywood biopics (remember, Chris Hemsworth's playing Hulk Hogan). But even so, this documentary has its own place and unique spot in the list of high profile wrestling films, as it's not a redemption tale of a wrestler battling personal demons or injuries, or even a young British wrestler making it to WWE. This film tells the story of an established Hollywood star David Arquette, who infamously won the World Heavyweight Championship in the now-defunct WCW promotion in 2000 and has felt the wrath of wrestling fans ever since. The moment has often been labelled as a dark day for professional wrestling, and now, at 46 years of age, Arquette wants to redeem himself by returning to the ring.
The documentary starts off in an eventful and very playful fashion, which sets the tone for what audiences can expect from this film. From opening with professional wrestler Ken Anderson cutting a wrestling promo on Arquette to revisiting Arquette's WCW stint to a fast-paced montage covering his Hollywood career, all the while being supported by energetic background music, the opening provides the key context while getting you used to the energetic vibe of the film, which fits Arquette's colourful personality to a tee. In addition to this, the early portions of the film dive into our subject's battles with his physical and mental health and his simplistic mindset of wanting love – nicely setting it up, so audiences root for him on this wild journey.
In line with the wrestling redemption narrative of the film, Arquette's documentary does a very good job giving outsiders a true sense of how wrestling works and its challenges. There is wonderful intimate footage of him training, learning the intricacies of moves that look so easy on TV, e.g. a lock-up, and him struggling to make a dime on the low-level independent scene. There is also a very creative and fun montage sequence that shows Arquette breaking down a match with his opponent, and as they say things, we see the results of their planning. If ever there was a sequence that highlighted how professional wrestling all comes together and how impressive it is when it's done right, it might be this sequence in You Cannot Kill David Arquette. It's a dazzling sequence that the creative team deserves a great deal of praise for.
The documentary also uses a great array of footage from TV appearances, old wrestling clips, and even interviews with various wrestling legends, allowing the story to have great range and highlight different points that ultimately all culminate in a wonderful finale. The conclusion of the film has a dramatic and visual presentation of a fictionalised feature film like The Wrestler with footage of Arquette in deep thought backstage, making it feel truly cinematic. It also wraps up the story in a wonderful whirlwind of emotions, making up for the sometimes overly comedic parts earlier in the film.
As touched upon in the previous statement, You Cannot Kill David Arquette is not flawless and can sometimes fall victim to its playful and somewhat chaotic style of filmmaking. There are moments where the story embraces the world of professional wrestling too much, so it blurs the lines of reality and fiction, and it almost makes you as a viewer resistant to engage on an emotional level because you're unsure if what you're seeing is genuine or not. Although the style and brashness of the documentary works, for the most part, it has these moments where the narrative can feel disrupted.
Also, the Rocky-like redemption narrative can sometimes feel a little forced and borderline cheesy at times. It feels like there are moments where the Scream star/former WCW Champion is intentionally hamming it up for the camera or other scenes, such as DDP's, spring into motivational speech/action at the drop of a dime. The film is clear and direct in the story it's trying to tell, but maybe could have done with a little more subtlety at times.
In the end, however, this documentary delivers in a big way. Not only does it open up a new side of David Arquette for the Hollywood and professional wrestling fans to understand and appreciate, but it also gives wrestling fans a true boost. It shows that even though wrestling is like a theatre show “on steroids,” according to Arquette, Hollywood bigwigs should stop looking down on the business as one of Hollywood's own shows the work needed to be a successful pro wrestler. You Cannot Kill David Arquette is unique, unfiltered, and unreal.
Dir: Price James, David Darg
Prd: Christina McLarty, Bryn Mooser, Stacey Souther, Ross Levine, Kathryn Everett, Justin Lacob
DoP: Price James, David Darg
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Blue Finch Film Releasing presents You Cannot Kill David Arquette on Digital Download 23 November