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Bigger, Stronger, Faster

Bigger, Stronger, Faster
Our Rating
2½ Stars - Fair
Average Rating
 
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Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for thematic material involving drugs, language, some sexual content and violent images)
Directed By
Chris Bell
Run Time
1 hour 45 minutes
Cast
Chris Bell, Hank Aaron, Lyle Alzado, Joshua Amsden
Theatre Release
January 19, 2008 by Magnolia Pictures

Ostensibly, Bigger, Stronger, Faster is a documentary about one of the hottest topics in American culture today: steroids. But it is also a portrait of a family—the all-American Bell family from Poughkeepsie, New York. The Bells are made up of two parents (Sheldon and Rosemary, married for 37 years) and their three muscle-bound boys: Mike ("Mad Dog"), Chris (who wrote and directed the film), and the youngest, Mark ("Smelly").

The Bell boys came of age in the Reagan-era 80s, at the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the physical fitness craze. Their heroes were people like Hulk Hogan, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, musclemen wrestlers and action stars who embodied the pumped-up male body image. Young boys everywhere sought to achieve the powerful physiques of these icons, and the Bell boys were no exception. They began intense weight training and undertook intensive dietary changes so as to look like Arnold and excel in sports like football, wrestling, and weightlifting. Only later did they find out that these so-called "heroes" conveniently withheld one crucial little secret to their physical success: steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.

These days, the Bell boys are all grown up, some married and with kids. Two of the three brothers (Mike and Mark) are regular users of steroids, justifying them for competitive powerlifting (Mark) and pro wrestling aspirations (Mike). Chris, who narrates the film, is the only brother who isn't on the juice, and you can see it in his slightly more normal-looking physique. The motivating question, then, that apparently led Chris (who also went to USC film school) to make this documentary is thus: "If steroids are demonized in society and considered un-American, ...

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