Like Rodney Dangerfield, all David Arquette wants is some respect. The “Scream” and “Eight Legged Freaks” actor and sometimes wrestler is the subject of “You Cannot Kill David Arquette,” a new documentary, now on VOD, that traces his journey to redemption in and out of the ring.
You likely know Arquette as part of the famous Hollywood family. His grandfather Cliff was a well-known comedian, his father Lewis was best known for playing J.D. Pickett on “The Waltons,” and his four siblings, Rosanna, Richmond, Patricia and Alexis (whop passed away in 2016) all became successful actors. He was once married to Cortney Cox and has been acting since his teens. Like everyone with a long career he’s been in hits and flops but, according to the documentary, “Scream,” the movie that made him a star also type cast him as a goofy, dim witted guy and ruined his serious acting career.
It was another movie, however, that sent him in a different direction. The actor was always a wrestling fan but “Ready to Rumble,” the story of a pair of slacker wrestling fans upset by the ouster of their favorite character by an unscrupulous promoter, brought him into the wrestling biz. Brought into Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling, he became a comic relief attraction and eventually winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. It was a marketing attempt, but wrestling fans were incensed that an interloper, a Hollywood actor, could take the championship away from “real” wrestlers. He became the he most hated man in pro-wrestling and gave up the ring for eighteen years.
Ostracized by Hollywood and the wrestling world, he battled substance abuse, a public divorce and a life-threatening heart attack. It’s here “You Cannot Kill David Arquette” begins.
Battling self-esteem issues—he frequently refers to himself as a loser—and the backlash that set him professionally adrift, Arquette, at age 48, and unable to get the acting auditions he wants, attempts a return to the ring. Like a flies-on-the-wall directors David Darg and Price James follow the actor as he loses fifty pounds, quits smoking, practices, gets his ass kicked, rehearses on the streets of Mexico and in one harrowing sequence, suffers a serious injury during an aptly named death match.
Wrestling takes up a great deal of screen time and it is clear that this is meant, in part, to be Arquette’s love letter to the sport, the important stuff in the film happens outside the ring. Arquette is laid bare here, exposing his struggles in a raw and candid way. He lays it bare, telling his tale on his own terms. It’s a story of personal redemption that never quite feels fulfilled, but Arquette’s directness and eagerness to set things right, if only in his own mind, is compelling.