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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Monster Movie Club: Bigger, Stronger, Faster*

Bigger, Faster, Stronger*
This is a movie that deserves at least one viewing. There are many themes that the movie touches on and at times it seems disjointed, but overall it does a pretty good job of encapsulating America's fetishism of steroids.

The Story is told through the eyes of director Chris Bell, who recounts his childhood admiration of Hulk Hogan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, all public figures who later admitted to using steroids (Schwarzenegger since he was 15). He chronicle's his brothers' steroid use and asks some pretty interesting questions.
At times the story seems very disjointed. I think this is due to the large amount of information the movie deals with. I think this would probably have served better as a miniseries. The one constant in the film is the hypocrisy shown by various people during the film. This is well demonstrated when George H.W. Bush appoints Arnold Schwarzenegger as the chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, years after Schwarzenegger admitted to taking the steroids and other drugs.
"We hate steroids, but we love steroid users"-Us
Ditto, but at least everyone hates Joe Buck.

There is also a great point about "natural supplements". Chris points out the fact that these are marketed as "legal steroids", yet in some cases they might actually have some terrible side effects. We owe this to t this guy. He helped make an ass-backward law, where supplements have to be proven to be dangerous to be taken off the market (which is the exact opposite as FDA approved drugs). This has actually happened a couple of times after a few deaths attributed to Ephedra

Chris, however is not without hypocrisy himself. In fact he seems to repeatedly make the point that athletes go out of their ways to cheat, with steroids or otherwise. This point is aggrandized to where he seems to say that every athlete is doing it, when in fact this is very far from the truth. In fact he himself points out the percentage of steroid users. 

At one point in the film Chris interviews the father of a teen who killed himself due to depression. The kid was known to take prescription steroids & anti-depressants. Because of this, the father decided to become an anti-steroid advocate. In fact the father became so successful that the MLB decided to institute steroid awareness days at their parks. Chris uses the point that the father is not going against anti-depressants or alcohol-- which is fair-- but goes against the theme that he and his brothers used steroids because they were inspired to do so by their heroes. He goes as far as to say that steroids are "a side effect of being American".
Also, Chris admits to dusing steroids at some point, yet he portrays himself as someone who is oblivious on the matter. During one scene, he shows an  intricate way of getting steroids through legal means. While it's kind of alarming that someone could lie their way towards getting them, it's also disturbing that he basically films a  guide in how to do so. 

There is also some embellishment. For example, the Carl Lewis/Ben Johnson controversy. In 1988, Ben Johnson was stripped of a first place medal due to steroids. Carl Lewis was then given the Gold. The film argues that Lewis was also cheating since he was also found with, ephedrine, a banned substance. What the film does not mention is that Carl Lewis is an outspoken vegan(i know, but still) & that the amount of the substance in his body coincided with the amount found in a person taking cold medicine. While the substance was illegal in performance, it was not illegal over the counter. 

Carl Lewis & Ben Johnson.

Mike Bell, the director's brother died shorty after the film was made. Chris gave a written statement about Mike's Death, but as far as I know the cause of death has not yet been publicized. 

Overall rating: 3.5 Rads out of 5 

Here's the trailer:

Next week: Unforgiven


  1. It is very possible that too many people have already seen these movies and that they are not really classics and probably won't provide a hearty intellectual discussion but I just really like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Shaun of the Dead and I would love to see them in the movie club because omgroflolmao.

  2. So are we going to be screening any of the Oscar contenders? B/c I would be so into that.