‘You Cannot Kill David Arquette’ Overview: An Actor’s Wrestling Fixation

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In 2000, David Arquette, coming off “By no means Been Kissed” and the third “Scream” movie, co-starred in a comedy known as “Able to Rumble,” which tried to satirize the hyperbolic freak present {of professional} wrestling (a doomed effort, because it’s already a satire of itself). To advertise the film, Arquette obtained woven into World Championship Wrestling storylines, largely as a comic book foil — in any case, he wasn’t an actual wrestler. However a number of weeks into the movie’s launch, in a setup bogus sufficient to disgrace Andy Kaufman, it was organized that Arquette would win a battle to develop into the WCW Heavyweight Champion. Which he did (his reign lasted all of 12 days).

This was a stunt so outlandish that wrestling followers thought-about it a bridge of fakery too far. Some mentioned that Arquette’s championship had ruined the game. So despite the fact that Arquette, a wrestling aficionado from means again, was simply driving the cross-promotional PR prepare and doing what he’d been informed, the incident body-slammed his model. It’s as if he was a Hollywood determine who was abruptly responsible of 1) excessive slumming and a pair of) doing a clumsy job of maximum slumming. In a single day, he misplaced all credibility as a wrestler and an actor.

Or, no less than, that’s the best way “You Cannot Kill David Arquette” presents it. Directed by David Darg and Value James, the movie is a documentary that follows Arquette’s try, in 2018, to return to the wrestling world — solely this time with a kick-ass integrity that he lacked earlier than. Eighteen years in the past, on the WCW matches, he was a thin child enjoying dress-up and approaching just like the badass he clearly wasn’t. Now, at 46, with a salt-and-pepper beard and a doughy torso stuffed with tattoos, he does all that he can to point out up as a educated wrestler who can maintain his personal with fighters just like the platinum-blond wrecking machine Ken Anderson.

Within the intervening years, Arquette had suffered a coronary heart assault (he now has two stents) and had gotten sober. He’d been married to Courtney Cox (within the documentary, she describes their relationship as follows: “We met on ‘Scream’ 1, we hated one another on ‘Scream 2,’ we obtained married ‘Scream 3,’ we obtained divorced ‘Scream 4′”), and he’s now remarried with three youngsters. In 1996, he was on the duvet of Self-importance Truthful’s Hollywood situation (together with Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, and Benicio Del Toro), however he by no means fairly broke into stardom, partially as a result of he obtained caught in a doofus persona (he was really extra attention-grabbing in severe roles), or possibly as a result of he failed to search out his future by placing sitcom lightning. As “You Cannot Kill David Arquette” opens, his profession is in tatters, but the movie presents his return to wrestling as much less a calculated maneuver than a private obsession that emerged from his slide down the ladder of showbiz.

Arquette is actually recreation to claw his means again into the limelight. But the dude is such a light-weight — genial and arduous to dislike, although with a contact of smarm, a wannabe who’s somewhat too outdated to be appearing like such a child at coronary heart — which you could’t be overly irritated by the innocence of his opportunism. We see him get severely banged up on the indie circuit — torn and bonked and, at one level, in a deathmatch with Nick Gage, he’s slashed within the neck, an damage that gave him a second of tabloid infamy. (He’s taken to a hospital and operated on.) We additionally see him grasp a number of high-flying drop-kick maneuvers he learns whereas coaching with masked wrestlers in Tijuana. However as his spouse, Christina McLarty Arquette (one of many movie’s producers), asks late within the film, “What the fuck is happening? What’s the level of all of this?” That’s a great summation of how chances are you’ll really feel watching “You Cannot Kill David Arquette.” The purpose appears to be to provide Arquette one thing to return him to the middle of the motion, one thing to revive the final second he felt like his title meant one thing.

But past the plain lunge at reigniting his movie star, the true level appears to be a type of penance. If “You Cannot Kill David Arquette” has a theme, it’s the cleaning high quality of ache — a reality-show masochism that seems like Arquette’s means of punishing himself for the degradation he dedicated on the wrestling world again in 2000. He’s now going to get pummeled for his sins. And he does. However the documentary additionally needs to be a story of triumph, and to that finish it’s prepared to go proper the place wrestling does: to a spot the place actuality and fakery merge till you’ll be able to’t inform the distinction.

What, in its over-the-top coronary heart, is skilled wrestling? It’s a sport, however it’s additionally a charade on steroids. You would possibly say that the important thing virus of our time (other than Covid, in fact) is the dependancy to looking-glass conspiracy theories like QAnon, which is now spreading like wildfire among the many disaffected, totally on the appropriate. These rabbit holes of paranoia overlap, in type, with a substantial amount of fantasy tradition (the level-by-level immersion of video video games, the multiverse nature of comic-book cinema). And when historical past appears to be like again on what it was that first impressed so many “extraordinary” People to droop their perception in, you understand, actuality, one of many key influences on that phenomenon could grow to be wrestling. As a result of that’s the type of leisure that made understanding fakery into its personal actuality. For many years, wrestling has mentioned to its viewers: “You like this since you fake it’s all actual! But the reality is that the majority of it’s pretend! And we allow you to know it’s pretend! However by being so upfront concerning the fakery, we flip it into its personal actuality! So it’s not pretend in any case! It you imagine in it sufficient!”

Wrestling, in different phrases, is a gladiator comedian guide crossed with Tinkerbell; it’s a postmodern prank that hinges on its followers embracing the phantasm of its grand sham. Kind of like QAnon with elbow smashes. On the finish of “You Cannot Kill David Arquette,” we’re drawn right into a wrestling narrative that the documentary needs you to imagine, even because it stands on the skin trying in. Is Arquette a has-been actor trumping up his largest failure in order that he can exploit it? Or is he a lionhearted wrestler who finds triumph by going the gap? The bizarre factor is that there’s no distinction.

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