Bigger, Stronger, Faster
Is it still cheating if everyone's doing it?
In America, we define ourselves in the superlative: we are the biggest, strongest, fastest country in the world. Is it any wonder that so many of our heroes are on performance enhancing drugs? Director Christopher Bell explores America's win-at-all-cost culture by examining how his two brothers became members of the steroid-subculture in an effort to realize their American dream.
The documentary examines the steroid use of the director Christopher Bell and his two brothers who all grew up idolizing Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hulk Hogan, and Sylvester Stallone, and also features professional athletes, medical experts, fitness center members, and US Congressman talking about the issue of anabolic steroids.
Beyond the basic issue of anabolic steroid use, Bigger, Stronger, Faster* examines the lack of consistency in how America views drugs, cheating, and the lengths people go to achieve success.
This includes looking beyond the steroid issue to such topics as Tiger Woods laser eye correction to 20/15 vision, professional musicians use of anxiety reducing drugs, or athletes' dependence on cortisone shots, which are a legal steroid.
The film also takes a skeptical examination on claims to the health risks of steroids and is highly critical of the legal health supplement industry.
Running time: 107 mins
Pop culture junkies tend to think of Hulk Hogan, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as entertainment figures. In Poughkeepsie, NY, back in the 1980s, filmmaker Christopher Bell and his brothers viewed them as heroes and became bodybuilders.
Like the Hulkster, Mike and Mark Bell even turned to professional wrestling. Chris, a former staffer at Venice's famous Gold's Gym, doesn't use anabolic steroids--he did try them once--but his heroes have and his brothers do, leading him to look deeper at this increasingly common practice. While Bell explores the health costs of juicing, he's mostly concerned with the moral consequences involved in the use of performance-enhancing substances.
Though he refrains from judgment, he stopped taking steroids because it felt dishonest. Naturally, his burly brothers feel otherwise. Aside from his family, Bell speaks with doctors, lawyers, congressmen, gym rats, and professional athletes, like Olympic sprinters Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis and Tour de France cyclist Floyd Landis. He also includes footage of José Canseco, Barry Bonds, and Mark McGwire testifying during the federal grand jury and congressional hearings on steroid use in the major leagues (prompted by the publication of Canseco's Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big).
For the most part, Bell doesn't leave any stone unturned and the personal nature of his entertaining and enlightening inquiry elevates Bigger, Stronger, Faster, i.e. The Side Effects of Being American, above your average exposé.
Recommended to athletes, sports fans, health nuts, and of course, pop culture junkies. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
NTSC DVD, OPEN REGION