Friday, October 10, 2008

Bigger Stronger Faster - DVD Review

BIGGER, STRONGER, FASTER (***1/2) - Directed by Christopher Bell.

This was a very interesting documentary, in that you could summarize it in one word - "steroids" - but it goes in many unexpected directions and provides a lot of food for thought. It's also a very personal one. Chris Bell is the middle brother of three, all of whom were into bodybuilding, and his two brothers still are, and they're very open about their steroid use. He starts out talking about his heroes - Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Hulk Hogan - and the disillusionment he felt when he learned they do steroids.

But he eventually gets around to a question: Why are steroids so bad?

The doc winds up being a meditation on winning at all costs, on why some drugs are demonized when the deadliest one (alcohol, tobacco) are still legal, and why Congress spent more time on baseball than health care, energy and Iraq combined.

Bell is interested in the facts, in actual studies. He does a good job demonstrating what a bad job the media has done on the truth about drugs and steroids in particular, how "experts" go on shows and testify before Congress without any actual evidence. He also asks questions about Pres. Bush, who owned the Texas Rangers when steroid use was rampant there, but who later condemns it in a State of the Union address.

It shows a lot of guys working out. "Training." Training for what? If they get bigger, then they... do what? Keep getting bigger? We meet one sad guy early on, a guy had a part in Sly Stallone's arm-wrestling pic Over the Top, who works out at Gold's Gym and sleeps in his van. What is he working toward?

Bell's older brother is a pro-wrestling wannabe. We see footage of him being a jobber for a while, one of those no-names that Mr. Perfect or the Undertaker would beat up 15-20 years ago, but he blames drugs on why he never made it. Today he still sadly clings to the hope he can make something happen. (I just realized Bell missed an opportunity here; he doesn't go into how many pro-wrestlers die prematurely. Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude, Yokozuna, Davey Boy Smith, Eddie Guerrero, etc. He mentions Chris Benoit to illustrate how paranoid the media got, but... I'm off-track here.)

His younger brother set the record for weightlifting. 705 pounds. On steroids. Everyone there knows it. The movie ended with me believing the majority of everyone in sports is on drugs somehow.

If Tiger Woods got laser-eye surgery to make his vision 20-15, isn't that performance enhancement? This movie gives a lot to the viewer to chew on.

No comments: