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Review: You Cannot Kill David Arquette – “Dangerous and tragic and beautiful and heartwarming”

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To promote the wrestling comedy Ready To Rumble in 2000, actor David Arquette – best known as Deputy Dewey in the Scream franchise – entered the wrestling world of the WCW, for real. 

Originally Arquette was meant to stay on the sidelines and not do any real wrestling, but when he was then allowed to win the world championship (the owner’s idea to generate column inches and attract new viewers) he pissed off everyone in the wrestling world, leaving his fellow wrestlers, who had trained for years only to see an untrained actor walk in and win a title for nothing, seething and the fans disgusted and outraged – calling it “the worst moment in wrestling history”.

Twenty years later and having been auditioning but not landing a role for ten years, Arquette is brought low. Suffering from addiction and mental health problems and having had a heart attack a year ago he decides what he really needs to do to reclaim his self-esteem and to honour a sport that he loves and is gutted now hates him is to re-enter the wrestling world, but this time to do it right and to do it for real.

You Cannot Kill David Arquette is a documentary following Arquette’s wrestling journey from being blanked by fans at a convention, a source of embarrassment to his daughter and getting the shit viciously kicked out of him at a backyard wrestling match by amateur wrestlers who have tricked him into appearing to getting fit, paying his dues, winning over his family and the fans, and finally getting the respect he desperately craves.

Arquette is an immensely lovable and likeable actor with an enormous sense of play so he wins you over almost immediately and you will find yourself enormously invested in his quest throughout. I am not even kidding. There comes a point in his training in Mexico with some luchadores where he pulls off one of those Black Widow style legs-around-the-neck spinning throws and you genuinely start TO BELIEVE.

The setbacks he suffers like getting cut to pieces in an LA deathmatch and then losing his friend Luke Perry – who drove him to the hospital – are heartbreaking and real. And I was genuinely petrified for him when I saw the beast he would have to grapple in the finale. It is all hyper-involving and dangerous and tragic and beautiful and heartwarming in the moment and there are points where you will be jumping on the sofa cheering, but there is a bit of a sour aftertaste.

Wrestling has always suffered because of the tension between its status as a sport or as entertainment – opting for both when the WWF rebranded as the WWE. Arquette addresses this by wearing “Wrestling isn’t fake” merch often in the film and we see the blood and the bruises, but at the end of the day as real as the physical feats and endurance are, it is scripted. The wrestlers’ bodies and what they do are very real, but the outcomes and circumstances are completely predetermined.

All credit to writer-directors David Darg and Price James  – and obviously David Arquette’s fabulous and fearless performance – for making us completely forget that this has also been the case for their film, but the mid-credits scenes return you to earth with a bump and feel like an unnecessarily smug alert to the fact that the film is not a documentary. 

I suppose it is best to be honest, but as good as any intentions may have been it leaves you feeling tricked and re-directs all post-film discussion towards how much of an I’m Still Here style long con what you just watched was instead of how much you loved it.

You Cannot Kill David Arquette is released to digitally download on the 23rd of November.

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One Comment

  1. Sorry I know it is off topic but I am wondering if any other poster knows what theme this site is ussing
    as I really love itt thank you

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