David Arquette is wearing an elaborate purple get-up and vaping while atop a horse when he says:
“I’m just kind of sick of being a joke, to be honest with you.”
One can’t help but laugh at this scene in the charming, oddball documentary “You Cannot Kill David Arquette” — but one is never laughing at him, we’re laughing with him because he always seems to be in on the joke. And when we’re not laughing, we’re worried about him, because over the last two decades Arquette often has been his own worst enemy. We’re rooting for him to get it together and live a long, full life.
As Arquette notes in typically candid fashion, he derailed a promising career in the early 2000s by taking every job that came his way, acting like a goofball in public — and becoming a professional wrestler and actually winning the WCW championship as part of a gimmicky storyline. “Fans consider it one of the worst moments in wrestling history,” we’re told.
Cut to nearly 20 years later. With few acting jobs on the horizon, Arquette comes to the questionable conclusion he can revive his career by returning to wrestling — but this time, even though he’s in his late 40s, he’s going to take it seriously, train hard and try to win the respect of the wrestling world. Not so sure that’s gonna get you on the short list for the next season of “Fargo,” but there you have it.
Directors Price James and David Darg frame the story like a sports movie, complete with training sequences right out of “Rocky III,” some snarling villains and the obligatory loyal romantic interest, i.e., Arquette’s wife Christina, who in arguably the most bizarre scene in a bizarre film dresses up like the late Miss Elizabeth, a pro wrestling figure and the object of David’s obsession.
Also appearing in the film is David’s ex, Courteney Cox, who notes, “We met on ‘Scream 1,’ we hated each other on ‘Scream 2,’ we got married on ‘Scream 3,’ we got divorced on ‘Scream 4.’ ” Ah, it’s a tale as old as time. (To their credit, David and Courteney have remained close as they share parenting of their 16-year-old daughter, Coco, who at first is mortified by her pops becoming a pro wrestler but is later seen in the stands at a match, flipping the bird to his opponent.)
Some of the scenes in “You Cannot Kill David Arquette” seem as contrived as any “reality” TV show, e.g., a visit to a doctor who examines David and tells us, “His results are very complex. … His brain isn’t connected in a typical way.” But there’s no doubting Arquette’s sincere desire to learn the sport and craft of wrestling, to get into shape, to resuscitate his career, to make his family proud.
We’re still rooting for the guy.