Fantasia 2020 Review: ‘You Cannot Kill David Arquette’

April 26, 2000, is a date that is a sore spot for wrestling aficionados across the world. On that edition of WCW Monday Nitro, actor David Arquette won the WCW World Championship. A booking decision that got panned across the board by both die-hard wrestling fans and long-time veteran wrestlers. Towards the end of the famed Monday Night Wars, WCW was on its last breaths as WWF/E continued to take off into the stratosphere with the Attitude Era. They needed a publicity blitz, so then booker Vince Russo came up with the idea to put the world championship on the actor.

To those looking from the outside, it may not seem like a big deal. Wrestling outcomes are pre-determined, but to those within that world, they saw it as disrespectful. As depicted in Arquette’s confrontation with The Nasty Boys’ Brian Knobs early in the documentary, there are still hard feelings and long memories. It’s a long storied tradition in wrestling that championships are bestowed upon you like a king’s crown. Think of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, or The Rock. To get that honor is something to be valued. The person who gets caught in the middle of all of this is Arquette – a long-time wrestling fan who just wanted to live out his dream. You Cannot Kill David Arquette shows a man in disarray both internally and externally and how he goes about rectifying that. How does a person overcome taking the brunt of a bad decision, even though their intentions were from a pure place?

This movie is not just a chronicle film of Arquette’s quest to gain respect in the world of wrestling – it’s also very much the deconstruction of the man himself. Arquette has a relatively successful career in Hollywood, even though the documentary hints at him being typecast after his reoccurring role as Officer Dewey in the Scream movies. At the time of production, he is 46, had endured a heart attack the year prior, battling an addiction to alcohol, and something continues to eat him up inside. It’s the fact that the wrestling community continues to take him as a joke about something that happened almost 20 years ago.

Ironically, Arquette’s wrestling redemption mirrors Jimmy King’s character in the 2000s Ready To Rumble. Both men were champions, fell on hard times, and had to endure a long road back to some provenance. There’s a Peter Pan aspect to Arquette’s relationship with the sport – it keeps him young and hopeful. That validation he seeks gives him something to strive for. It’s a simple message that people of all ages can resonate with. How many times have you been told you’re too old to do something, or some dream has passed you by? Wresting is almost a perfect marriage for that wistfulness because you can be a larger-than-life character void of aging.

Arquette doesn’t take shortcuts either. His training starts with a backyard wrestling organization, places like Mexico, and then eventually back in the United States. He gets beat up in the process – from light tubes, thumbtacks, and broken bones. It feels like it’s the price of entry for the 2000 win and to really make sure he wants that dream as bad as he says he does. Here, he gains the respect of wrestlers and indie fans – who are some of the toughest critics. While this is Arquette’s story, the documentary includes reactions from his family as well. His sisters, Rosanna and Patricia, brother Richmond, ex-wife Courtney Cox, and current wife, Christina McLarty, all give an outside perspective to his pursuit and why he needs this so much.

Directors David Darg and Price James split the difference between wrestling narratives and a story of a man seeking to make himself whole. It’s enough here to serve both masters. Anybody can level with the universal message of regret and the need to fix it. The documentary doesn’t skate on the highs or the lows. When it appears the Cinderella story is complete, the 2018 infamous ‘deathmatch’ between Arquette and Nick Gage happens. He almost dies because of a cut to his neck and soon after, loses his longtime friend, Luke Perry. It seems like all is lost, and then things come around in a full circle fashion as he’s able to compete in the wrestling event that he was rejected from earlier in the documentary.

In some ways, You Cannot Kill David Arquette feels like the perfect wrestling storyline intertwined with real-life turmoil. Never give up on your dreams, right? In a world where there seem to be so many roadblocks, the wrestling universe is where someone can put the work in and have their time in the sun. No matter how hard Arquette’s life gets, he can put on his cape and fall into his ‘magic man’ persona and all is right in the world.

Photo Credit: Super Ltd.

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Author: Murjani Rawls View all posts by
Journalist, Self-published author of five books, podcast host, and photographer since 2014, Murjani Rawls has been stretching the capabilities of his creativity and passions, Rawls has as a portfolio spanning through many mediums including music, television, movies, and more. Operating out of the New York area, Rawls has photographed over 200+ artists spanning many genres, written over 700 articles ranging displaying his passionate aspirations to keep evolving as his years in media continue.

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