You Cannot Kill David Arquette Review: A Story Worthy Of Rocky

The washed-up actor takes one last stab at following his real dream: becoming a professional wrestler.

By Drew Dietsch | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

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You Cannot Kill David Arquette is probably going to have a tough time convincing some people to give it the time of day. In a nutshell, the documentary follows actor David Arquette as he trains and fights in professional wrestling matches. If you have no interest in professional wrestling or watching the real-life story of a somewhat notable Hollywood actor, this film likely sounds like a waste of your time.

However the point of this You Cannot Kill David Arquette review is to implore those people to reconsider. You Cannot Kill David Arquette is a moving, exciting, sometimes tragic, and often candid look at the cost of pursuing your wildest dreams and what it means to find redemption.

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During the declining years of the professional wrestling company World Championship Wrestling (WCW), David Arquette was given the World Heavyweight Championship title as a way to help promote his comedy film, Ready to Rumble. It was a disastrous storyline angle that immediately soured fans on Arquette in the wrestling world. It’s often quoted as one of the worst moments in wrestling history. You Cannot Kill David Arquette quickly summarizes this at the beginning of its running time and then takes a look at how Arquette is doing in the present day.

And it’s not good. Arquette has a good life and loves his kids, but he can’t find work as an actor because most people see him as nothing but his doofy Officer Dewey character from Scream. He’s battling alcohol addiction, out of shape, and also has mental health issues that lead to depression. The first act of You Cannot Kill David Arquette is shocking in its uncensored portrayal of a man teetering on the edge of something really dark. There is a moment of chemical psychiatric therapy with Arquette that is so piteous and sad to watch that it’s surprising Arquette allowed it to be in the movie.

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That vulnerability is crucial to You Cannot Kill David Arquette selling its comeback narrative. Yes, this is a documentary but it also has a very specific story it wants to tell. Arquette loves professional wrestling and he doesn’t want his legacy in the business to be one of shame and dishonor. He’s determined to train with real pros and take his licks on the independent wrestling circuit in order to clear his name. Watching David Arquette get beaten to a pulp in a crummy backyard wrestling ring will show you just how much he cares about this profession.

And make no mistake: You Cannot Kill David Arquette HURTS. To see the strain Arquette puts on his body is rough, and Arquette himself mentions that regular wrestlers constantly do this to themselves. It’s one of the reasons he gives for his respect for professional wrestling: the people who do it give it their all and pay the price. There is something unwavering and noble about such a foolish endeavor, and Arquette not only wants to showcase his personal journey but also the hard work and dedication that goes into being a professional wrestler.

However, You Cannot Kill David Arquette isn’t all pain. It’s overflowing with real heart and love as well. One extended sequence has Arquette traveling to Mexico to train with both acclaimed wrestler Diamond Dallas Page and a group of lucha libre wrestlers. In lucha libre, earning your mask is an honored part of one’s training. After wrestling on the streets of Mexico for tips from drivers, Arquette wrestles a full indoor match and is given his lucha libre mask. It’s a super touching moment but it goes even further when the owner of the wrestling school signs his own mask and gives it to Arquette. The reaction Arquette has is nothing short of boyishly heartwarming, as he holds back crying from appreciation and recognition of his work.

And that’s definitely the message at the heart of You Cannot Kill David Arquette: if you devote your mind and body to an endeavor, you want others to recognize your passion and commitment. It’s a moral we can all connect with regardless of the specific avenues the film pursues. Arquette’s devotion to professional wrestling is no different than the devotion anyone has for a dream. It’s especially poignant to those of us whose dreams seem outside of normal society’s expectations. We see a number of Arquette’s family members – and ex-wife Courtney Cox – questioning his decision to pursue professional wrestling. It’s nothing but strange to them. And Arquette accepts that he’s chasing something he’s wanted ever since he was a kid.

You Cannot Kill David Arquette is a movie for the wide-eyed kid in all of us. Its lead subject admits to being something of a stunted adult and the film certainly showcases the downside of that. At the same time, it also highlights the wonder and enthusiasm that a childlike perspective can offer. But again, it also never shies away from the terrible cost that perspective comes with.

Arquette refuses to back down and very nearly is killed for his persistence. There is a deathmatch with wrestler Nick Gage in which Arquette gets cut on his neck and can’t stop the bleeding. He has to be rushed to the hospital by his friend Luke Perry and it’s a moment that ranks as one of the most terrifying and tense in all of 2020’s movie landscape.

Through all the ups and downs, You Cannot Kill David Arquette continues to pull you into the story of a somewhat crazy but always resilient boy who just wants to be seen as worthy of the entertainment profession he loves more than anything. It’s a story worthy of Rocky and that’s no faint praise. By the end of You Cannot Kill David Arquette, directors David Darg and Price James have brought us one of the great comeback stories in recent memory.

If you enjoy professional wrestling, You Cannot Kill David Arquette is a must-see documentary experience along the lines of Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows, Beyond the Mat, and Dark Side of the Ring. Even if you have zero interest in professional wrestling – frankly, the documentary isn’t focused on explaining the sport to outsiders – this is still a worthwhile way to spend ninety minutes. Gripping, harrowing, and ultimately endearing, You Cannot Kill David Arquette is one of the brightest spots in an otherwise terribly dark year.

You Cannot Kill David Arquette is playing in select drive-in theaters and will be available on digital and on-demand services this Friday, August 28.

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