You Cannot Kill David Arquette: The BRWC Review. By Alif Majeed.
You wonder exactly what prompted David Arquette to make it and what point he has to prove with it when you start watching, You Cannot Kill David Arquette. Especially as it focuses on a “fake” sport like wrestling and on an actor who did show much promise when he started acting. He seems to have a decent life and looks to have it reasonably well.
David Arquette’s fame was, to some extent, tainted by him becoming a WCW champion in 1999 in a sham of a match. This incident has become synonymous with the downfall of not just WCW but also the overall reputation of wrestling. Anyone who has a cursory knowledge of the wrestling war would know about the WWE / WCW rating war of the ’90s. As one of the butterfly effects of trying to boost its ratings was when the higher-ups of WCW made Arquette win the world championship belt. Yes, he agreed to do it to promote his wrestling movie Ready to Rumble releasing back then, but it threw a wedge in both WCW position as a wrestling company (tellingly, the company folded months after this incident) and also in his career, which was never the same afterward.
The documentary is mainly divided into three sections, like a three-act structure from the Hollywood paradigm. The first section is where David Arquette tries to convince his friends and family and also us, the audience why he wants to get back into wrestling. Maybe it is because the primary protagonist in the documentary is a Hollywood actor, and it follows the rags to riches template to the fault. It tries to set David as a guy who is down and out. You know that it will all be tied together neatly with a bowtie and ribbon by the end. You raise your eyebrows when he says that he has been out of work and failing auditions for a while. But a cursory glance at his filmography shows the guy has been working steadily contradicting what he said. It might not be up to the A-list standards of the promise he showed in the ’90s, but the exaggeration shows a bit at this point.
The surprising aspect here is the willingness that his friends and family are showing to indulge him in his delusional fantasy of redemption. He, at least in the initial stages, comes across as this overgrown man – child (playing up Dewey from Scream maybe) who is immaturely trying to get everyone to agree to his tantrums. This is all fine, but I still was not convinced why this documentary exists.
Thus begins the second section, which comprises David Arquette going to different places to train. It is the most amusing part of the documentary. Again, following the Hollywood movie paradigm, this seems like a giant second act. The “wax on wax off” part where he is training to be a professional wrestler.
There are many amusing scenes peppered throughout this segment as how these training montages go. It was fun seeing him training with a bunch of kids playing dress-up and getting his ass kicked and then the one where he goes to Mexico and trains and puts on a show at the traffic lights with a group of local Lucha Libre wrestlers. His surprise at not receiving the same amount of tips that the experienced wrestlers do plays up his delusional nature. Purely on an entertainment level, this is easily the best segment of the documentary and the section that works well at paving the way to root for David to succeed as a wrestler.
In the last section, where the third act begins, he gets around the wrestling circuit on a more serious level. Seeing the way he transformed from overweight to fit actor turned wrestler is commendable. A lot of the wrestling in the arena might be fake and done with a lot of practice and good timing but to see him getting punished and brutalized in the wrestling ring is not just scary, but you almost want to tell him, “Okay you proved your point, now stop.” Only for him to keep on at it and getting critically injured.
The man loves wrestling, both as a sport and as entertainment, and it shows. And the need to get rid of the tag of at least being in part ruining the reputation of the thing he loves so much is also incentive enough to “fake” punish himself in the ring. Following the typical 3-act paradigm might not be a bad thing, as it best helps its case in making those points.
Beyond the Mat might still be the gold standard of wrestling documentaries, but, You Cannot Kill David Arquette makes its case as one of the better documentaries in the wrestling category. The competition might be less, but it is as much a wonderful tribute to the sport he reveres so much as it about his redemption.
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