DVD Review & Film Discussion: “Bigger, Stronger, Faster*”

Synopsis from official website: From the producers of Bowling For Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 comes a new film that unflinchingly explores our win-at-all-cost culture through the lens of a personal journey. Blending comedy and pathos, Bigger, Stronger, Faster* is a collision of pop culture, animated sequences and first-person narrative, with a diverse cast including US Congressmen, professional athletes, medical experts and everyday gym rats.

At its heart, this is the story of director Christopher Bell and his two brothers, who grew up idolizing muscular giants like Hulk Hogan, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and who went on to become members of the steroid-subculture in an effort to realize their American dream. When you discover that your heroes have all broken the rules, do you follow the rules, or do you follow your heroes?

Film Review & Disccusion: I didn’t know what to expect when I sat down to watch “Bigger, Stronger, Faster*” and, quite frankly, I assumed it would be about how athletes have tarnished sports due to their use of performance-enhancing substances.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Sure, the film does dive into how athletes and celebrities like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Hulk Hogan and Arnold Schwarzenegger got an edge in their respective sports by using steroids. But it goes much deeper than that.

The film does a tremendous job of showing both sides of the steroids issue by including opinions from both sides of the argument. Instead of shoving his opinion down the audience’s throat, director Chris Bell allowed the viewer to determine whether or not steroids are hurting sports, as well as why they’re viewed a certain way in society. (And really, it’s clear throughout the film that he doesn’t have an opinion either way – he just wants viewers to be more educated on the topic of steroids.)

The film relied on interviews with athletes including former Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson (right), steroid users, people who were somehow affected negatively by steroids, and medical experts who claim that there just isn’t enough evidence either way to suggest that steroids actually kill people. The medical information that was shared in the film was eye opening to say the least. (For example, the perception is that steroids cause ‘roid rage in everyone that takes them, but only 5% of people that take steroids develop those symptoms according to the film.)

One of the more interesting takeaways from the film is how America views steroids. The drug is mostly demonized in our society, but why? Is it because it’s played a hand in ruining sports? Is it because we as fans hate that Barry Bonds, who allegedly took steroids, cheated to break baseball’s all-time home run record? Do we hate steroids because athletes use them to get an edge on the field and therefore, tarnish the games we love? Or maybe because steroids have a trickle down effect and potentially works its way into college and even high school sports?

The film raises an interesting debate that has come up in other steroid-related discussions: If you were a professional athlete with the opportunity to make millions of dollars and provide for your family, would you take steroids? Would you cheat? Based on moral beliefs, most of us would like to say no. But then again, most of us aren’t in the position to have to make that decision either.

For the record, I don’t condone steroid use. I’ve never taken steroids, nor do I plan to. It makes me sick to think that high school kids and other young adults in this country are doping because they feel it’s the only way to become a professional athlete.

But let’s take sports out of the debate for a second. When purely talking about adults (non-professional athletes) making the concise choice whether or not to use steroids, the film makes an interesting point that it should be left to the individual to decide if it’s morally acceptable – not society. And it’s rather ironic that another illegal and potentially harmful drug, marijuana, is used almost as a comedic prop in many movies, yet steroids and those that use them are made out to be villains. (Granted, the side effects and potential dangers of the two don’t compare, but it’s funny that one illegal drug is damn near accepted and glorified by society, while the other is vehemently viewed as morally wrong.)

Overall, Bell accomplishes what he sets out to do; he enlightens people about what steroids are. He also gives viewers a different perspective about steroids than what is normally fed to us through the media and the so-called experts.

Click here for an interview I conducted with the director of the film, Chris Bell. Among other topics, I asked him what drove him to make the film, what he wanted viewers to take from it, and how his family (who are prominently shown throughout the film) reacted when they saw it on the big screen. For more information about “Bigger, Stronger, Faster*,” visit the film’s official website.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Related Posts