little-man complex.

in christopher bell’s bigger, stronger, faster, the writer/director examines the culture of steroids in this country and concludes, often while citing dubious evidence, that the use of such drugs is merely a side effect of being american. he proposes emphatically that blame should be put on our obsession to be the best at everything, but his arguments, which at first appear compelling, become tiresome quickly and devolve into scapegoating. he suggests that america’s affinity for winning undermines our ability to make moral or ethical distinctions of any kind.

chris, who has given up steroids, and his brothers, who both continue to use, are the main subjects of the film. their heroes, among them, hulk hogan, sylvester stallone, and arnold schwarzenegger, are highlighted, as they encourage children to take vitamins if they want to grow stronger. how can we not use performance-enhancing drugs, it’s repeated throughout the movie, when the people who have achieved the results we want for ourselves are? has breaking the rules become the only way to realize the american dream? is it still cheating if everyone is doing it?

surely, the previous questions are thought provoking, and an even examination of these topics should produce a successful and informative film, but the treament of the material is often so juvenile and biased that it is rendered comical. he sometimes makes wwe chairman, vince mcmahon, look like he took truth serum before appearing in front of congress during his trial regarding steroid use in his sport. in portions steroids are viewed as comparable to tiger woods undergoing laser-eye surgery to improve his vision to twenty-fifteen, the use of anxiolytics by professional musicians to calm nerves before a concert, and this country requiring fighter pilots to take amphetamines.

chris saves his harshest criticism, however, for the health industry, attempting to debunk claims that the drugs come with inherent health risks, but providing little beyond anecdotes (i.e. his brothers are taking steroids and doing just fine) to support his claims. at some point he also reveals that even vitamin c has adverse effects on the body, making it irresponsible, in his view, to promote one while criminalizing the other. it should come as no surprise that some of the people that worked on this film also helped michael moore with his poorly-researched propaganda.

the movie’s best sequences involve the boys’ parents. they both are opposed to steroid use, but that doesn’t keep them from cheering, brimming over with joy, when their son lifts seven hundred pounds over his head. at the dinner table they give the children an opportunity to confess their actions but they are met with ignorance and lies, even though, purportedly, they do not think they are doing anything wrong — or at least that their actions are excusable.


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