There was a time in the mid-’90s when people would have killed to be David Arquette. With the rapidity of a Gatling gun, he cranked out what appeared to be a trio of career-determining performances: the jaundiced rebel in Robert Rodriguez’s Roadracers (the director’s rapid-fire teensploitation contribution to Showtime’s fine "Rebel Highway" series), the momma’s boy aiming to gun down a legend in Walter Hill’s Wild Bill, and the potential suicide victim who can’t quite bid the world farewell in Finn Taylor’s Dream With the Fishes. Add to that a trio of Screams, and the future looked promising for the actor as he entered the new millennium. Given my affinity for both actor and genre, it’s freaky how the wrestling comedy Ready to Rumble came and went without my noticing. But someone must have seen it, for if ever a film kneecapped a career trajectory, it was that one. The film’s producer, Christina McLarty Arquette, later remarked, “Crossing over into that world caused a lot of directors not to take him seriously.” Do you think? Arquette was soon a WCW cast member, with a script calling for him to win the World Heavyweight Championship. It’s okay for celebrities, even future presidents, to enter the squared circle. Just don’t dare let a Hollywood outsider lick the competition, let alone take home a belt. Through it all, Arquette maintains a good-natured composure; he genuinely takes the audience catcalls to heart. After a decade of rejection by wrestling fans and Hollywood producers alike, directors David Darg and Price James follow the 46-year-old Arquette’s enrollment in Luchador U to prepare him for the most intense competition of his life. Not only does he follow the storyline to the letter, he also, thanks to his training, gives the performance of his career. (2020) — Scott Marks
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