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Review: Redemption sought, and found, in 'You Cannot Kill David Arquette'

Documentary traces actor's return to the world of pro wrestling to fix the wrongs of 20 years ago

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

There's a lot going on with David Arquette.

"You Cannot Kill David Arquette" tells the strange, touching story of the actor's quest to redeem himself in the eyes of pro wrestling fans, and in so doing win over his family and maybe even Hollywood.  

David Arquette in "You Cannot Kill David Arquette."

Arquette, most famous for his roles in the "Scream" films, won World Championship Wrestling's Heavyweight Championship in 2000 while promoting his wrestling-themed comedy, "Ready to Rumble." Arquette's title reign is looked at as a low point in the history of pro wrestling, and it also coincided with the downslide of his career: acting gigs started drying up, and his personal life fell into disarray.

So documentary crew in tow, Arquette plots his return to the ring, to pay the dues he never did the first time around. Can he climb back to the top? And what does redemption look like?

"You Cannot Kill David Arquette" doubles as a look at Arquette's mercurial spirit, his Peter Pan syndrome, and, at times, his death wish. Pro wrestling, with its blending of reality and fiction, provides a perfect backdrop, as the film also tangles real world and in-ring storylines, to the point where as a viewer you'll find yourself stepping back and asking, "is this real?" 

Filmmakers David Darg and Price James are along for the ride, and capture Arquette as he trains with pros, wrestles in backwoods backyards and competes in underground lucha libre matches in Tijuana. (There's an oddly poignant scene set to Carly Simon's "Coming Around Again" that perfectly captures Arquette's childlike essence.)

In the end, big questions linger: Was his ultimate goal achieved? Did he just need enough footage for the film? You're not quite sure, but it's an entertaining ride, and at his heart Arquette is an entertainer. Mission accomplished. 'You Cannot Kill David Arquette'

GRADE: B

Rated R: for language throughout, some bloody images, and nudity

Running time: 91 minutes

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama