Movie Review: “Bigger Stronger Faster”

Could it be that on Friday night I saw what could be the best movie of the summer? 

Was it a mega-hyped sequel like “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”? No.

Was it the female audience skewing “Sex and the City: The Movie”? Hell no?

Was is one of my faves, a horror film? Nope. 
 
The best movie I have seen so far wasn’t even a work of fiction. It was the documentary by Chris Bell called “Bigger, Stronger, Faster”.
 
The documentary is a controversial examination on the risks of anabolic steroid use. Anabolic steroids use is a hot topic these days, with scandals in the world of sports being fresh in the American cultural zeitgeist. The film tackles the supposed “dangers” of steroid use and exposes many of the “Side Effects” attributed to anabolic steroid use as myths. 
 
I am informed enough to know that most documentary films can only present one side of the truth in order for the director to be persuasive and make its case. Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 911” was a good example of presenting a biased side to a true story. But the way director Christopher Bell handles the material here is with responsibility and presents many different objective sides to the debate.  And it helps to see these contrasting views with regards to the debate. But evidence and science prove that the “dangers” of anabolic steroid use are greatly exaggerated. And what you ultimately walk away with after viewing this film is that steroid use is unfairly demonized. 
 
Bell (who is a former steroid user) uses his family’s story to add his personal touch to the film. His 2 brothers are avid anabolic steroid users and their individual stories are pretty compelling. The brothers all turned to the drugs after being hit over the head with the boom of Mega Men from the 80’s. You all know the heroes we all idolized like Arnold, Stallone, Hogan. All of the 80’s larger than life role models who now we know gained their god like physiques due to the use of anabolic steroids. The film shows many older clips from Wrestling, and Movies and it just enhances the movie greatly.  For any person who grew up through the 80’s, the nostalgia of the shoot em up action movies and over the top wrestling can only put a smile on your face.  
 
Which brings me to another aspect of the film I enjoyed. “Bigger Stronger Faster” is also very funny. Bell and his family are all relatable and sincere. There is no mugging for the cameras and phoniness. And there is a specific bit that included Mexican Day Laborers that was pretty hilarious (and no worries, nothing demeaning occurred).  This bit leads me to another aspect I enjoyed about the film; Bell blows the lid off of the unregulated athletic supplement industry and how the 24 billion dollar a year industry is essentially a sham. He shows how many of the products don’t even work at all.  How the ripped and muscular models used are usually juicing themselves. And how before and after pictures are often taken the same day and touched up with Photoshop.  It’s all truly eye opening stuff. Any athletic person who is a supplement hound should really consider this when they take their next trip to GNC. 
 
In the end, Christopher Bell’s documentary was insightful, informative, well rounded and highly enjoyable. He is engaging as a narrator and as the film’s unlikely star. The facts he presents from both sides are pretty clear. All of the pros and cons are presented fairly. Which boils down to the bottom line: With Anabolic Steroids, (as with anything in life) too much of a good thing, or abuse of something can eventually become bad for you.

With a stance that can be considered as “Pro Anabolic Steroids”, this film is sure to stir up controversy. But it is also so well done that I don’t see how Anti-Steroid advocates can pick it apart or write it off. The facts are there for everyone to see.
 
Will I now go out and get juiced like Canseco? No. But at least I know (and have known for a while) that the dangers of anabolic steroid use are grossly exaggerated by the government.
 
In the end, Bell has done a great job here and has delivered a clever, funny, insightful, and often poignant film that is sure to become the next “Super Size Me” success. 
 
My Rating: B 
 
PS: Arnold Schwarzenegger has a huge case of “Bitch-Assness”. Seriously. 
 
Bigger Stronger Faster opened in NY and LA in limited release on Friday May 30th. 


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