Movie Mind Says:  Rent It

If You Like This You Should Watch:  Pumping Iron
Better Than:  Dying to Win (TV documentary)
Worse Than:  Beyond the Mat

Bigger Stronger Faster*

Starring: Chris Bell, Mark Bell, Mike Bell

Is it cheating if everyone is doing it? Interesting question which this film attempts to uncover the answer to, but never really gets to its roots. A documentary with likeable filmmakers and a knack for picking the best timing you could ever imagine, Bigger Stronger Faster* takes a lighthearted run at what has been a heated debate this past decade.

While Chris Bell looks into who the great steroid debate truly affects, he does so with a slant toward the pro-steroid crowd. He is not necessarily condoning it per-se, but still seems to lie in the “So What?” camp. His brothers are long-time admitted steroid users who seemed to have flourished in their athletic pursuits due to the performance enhancers (power lifting, football, etc.) and they have no qualms about defending why steroids get a bad rap in the media.

While the medical and historical research was thoroughly skewed toward one-side, Bell did unveil some interesting, albeit, unintentional, tidbits in his quest. I found that my feelings were still unchanged after the film, but much more skeptical about both the users and the accusers. Take Congressman Henry Waxman, leader of the Baseball Congressional Hearings against Sosa, McGuire, Palmiero, and countless other cheaters. When asked by Bell to essentially defend his stance against steroids, he had to ask an aide about the actual laws about steroid use! Just for kicks, he also thinks the legal drinking age is 18. On the flip side of the coin, I learned to feel sorrier for the roid-heads instead of so scornful. Clearly there is some major void I their lives that they choose to fill with steroids. I’m sure there are more detrimental things they could become affixed with, but it doesn’t change the fact that they simply have major issues that become covered up with these steroids.

I’m not sure this film will sway your stance on steroids one way or another, but it may open your eyes to the sheer hypocrisy that exists on both sides of the debate. Neither the users, who claim they worked harder than everyone else and did it the natural way, nor the lawmakers who pass judgment and legislation without having the proper information, have any clue on how to address this issue. Kudos to Chris Bell for shedding some humor on the whole sham. If we learned anything, it’s that our concerns for the issue are very real, and that with all the hot-air blowing from both sides of the debate, we are nowhere close to making any legitimate headway. 
Submitted 3-10-09

Interesting Cameo Appearance:  A ridiculous amount of unforeseen cameos, not because they were unexpected but because they actually agreed to be a part of this documentary. They range from Floyd Landis and his disturbing pressure chamber, to Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson (not on screen at the same time of course). Throw in some Henry Waxman (aka Ewok) and plenty of the Governator and you have a who’s who in the great steroid debate. It was nice to see a regular dude going up to these guys and asking the questions we wanted to hear.

Memorable Quotes:
Was there any sort of moral bridge to cross when you did this?
Porn Star: Well, we’re in the porn business. There’s not a whole lot of morals to begin with.

Fighter Pilot: In sports you should play fair. In war, you shouldn’t play fair at all.

Barry Bonds: We just need to go out there and do our jobs, just as you professionals do your jobs. No… All you guys lied. All of y’all. In a story or whatever, have lied. Should you have asterisks behind your name? All of you have lied! All of you have said something wrong, all of you have dirt. All of you. When your closet’s clean, then come clean somebody else’s. But clean yours first.

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