I did not know whether I could be merely amused or had to wince a lot as watching documentary film “You Cannot Kill David Arquette”. The documentary often feels so ridiculous and outrageous that I often had serious doubts on the veracity of what is presented in the documentary, and this baffling impression still lingers on my mind even after I did some online search for just confirming to myself that it is not one of those self-deprecating mockumentaries such as “I’m Still Here” (2010).
The documentary revolves around what can be described as a serious middle life crisis for David Arquette, who has been mainly known for his performance in several notable films including “Scream” (1996) and the following several sequels but also once gained considerable notoriety as (please don’t laugh) a professional wrestler. After participating in the production of the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) movie “Ready to Rumble” (2000), Arquette did enter the ring for more publicity for that movie, and then he gained the WCW championship as planned in advance, but it goes without saying that this did not look that good to many wrestling enthusiasts out there.
Anyway, after more than 15 years later, Arquette attempted to enter the ring again, and the documentary observes his rather problematic preparation process. Although he looks healthier than me at least, Arquette is over 45 in addition to being riddled with several serious health issues, and his children and his second wife Christina McLarty are naturally quite concerned even though they fully support his decision to do wrestling again.
The documentary listens to Arquette and several others around him for giving us some understanding on this preposterous decision of his. As his acting career has been going nowhere during last 20 years (The last time I saw him on a big screen is “Scream 4” (2011), by the way), he wants to try other options left to him at present, and professional wrestling looks like a good one because he has always been enthusiastic about it since his childhood years.
Arquette initially starts from the bottom just like many other struggling amateur wrestlers out there, but, of course, he comes to fall harder than expected. At one point, he attempts to enter a low-scale match held at a shabby backyard, but his attempt turns out to be disastrous for several reasons. While the ring itself is quite crummy to say the least (It even gets collapsed at one point when one of the wrestlers at the scene tries a little too hard), Arquette often faces several problems associated with his physical condition, and he still remains at the bottom even though he manages to survive the match in the end.
Although his doctor warns that more wrestling will get his physical health more deteriorated, Arquette does not listen to his doctor’s advice at all, and he searches for any possible way to improve his health condition and athletic ability more. It is clear to us that he is driven by something more than mere enthusiasm, but neither nor the documentary delves deep into that matter, and his family members including his two actress sisters Rosanna and Patricia Arquette only provide a bit of insight on what makes him tick.
Anyway, Arquette subsequently goes down to Mexico, where he comes to train and wrestle along with several local masked wrestlers. At first, he does not click that well along with these local wrestlers, but then he gradually becomes improved, and we later get a silly scene where he and these local wrestlers try some impromptu wrestling performances on a wide urban street. In front of cars stopping for a while due to a traffic light, he and they demonstrate their wrestling skills within a very short time, and the people in the cars actually give little compliment and money before they drive away.
After becoming more skillful and confident, Arquette is ready to advance further in US, and directors David Darg and Price James, who also served as the cinematographers of their documentary, gives us a number of wild moments which may take you back to Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler” (2008). In case of one particularly striking moment, we see Arquette being savagely brutalized by his opponent in the ring, and we come to wince more when he enters the ring again despite a very serious injury on his neck, which could actually cost his life in the worst case.
Even at that point, the documentary remains somewhat distant to its hero, and that trend is continued even when Arquette comes to draw more publicity before his duel with a certain aggressive wrestler. Sure, he seems to be quite excited and jubilant as enjoying what may be another peak in his life, and he also looks willing to look silly and ridiculous in front of the camera, but he usually stops before baring himself to us more than before. As a result, we keep observing him from the distance even while amused a lot by his bumpy quest for another glory, and we do not see enough reason for why we have to cheer for his questionable efforts.
In conclusion, “You Cannot Kill David Arquette”, which won the Adobe Editing Award at the SXSW Film Festival early in this year, is fairly amusing, but it does not go beyond ridiculousness, and it only left me with lots of mixed feelings. To be frank with you, I have no idea on what will come next in Arquette’s life, but I sincerely hope that he will be able to go gently into darkness after having less troubles than before.