Studio: Magnolia Pict Hm Ent Release Date: 09/30/2008 Run time: 106 minutes Rating: Pg13
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 Jos¨¦ 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 expos¨¦. Recommended to athletes, sports fans, health nuts, and of course, pop culture junkies. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Chris Bell nails it..... Awesome, outstanding, can't miss!!!
Those three phrases best describe this documentary.
Chris Bell really, really nailed the subject of steroids on the head with his movie. His first hand knowledge of steroids and how to get them, use them, their effects on the body and the effect they have on your personality and family life really make the movie.
Every athlete should watch this movie at least once!
He interviews all the right people in the movie, trying to get a prospective view of the drug from all walks of life.
What I really liked about this documentary... Is that I perceived honesty in the filmaker's opinions throughout the film. When I was about to watch this movie I said... heck another movie about how I not should use steroids, but actually the reflections were much deeper than that and the conclusions of the author were truly heartfelt.
This is a very good movie, funny in parts, has some serious moments and all in all it makes you think....more info
Steroid Use as a Cultural Side Effect - A Very Personal Story As director Christopher Bell narrates in the closing moments of his superb documentary BIGGER, STRONGER, FASTER, America likes winners and heroes, those who finish first because they are the biggest, strongest, or fastest. So despite all the alleged side-effects of anabolic steroids (Bell smartly declines to take sides on this question), he nevertheless concludes that steroids are not the problem, they are simply a side-effect of being American.
BIGGER, STRONGER, FASTER is decidedly not an exploration of pop culture. Yes, the movie includes multiple references to Arnold Schwarzenegger in his iron-pumping, Mr. Universe days, along with Sylvester Stallone and Hulk Hogan and even the Fifties-era Charles Atlas comic book ads with their 98-pound, sunken-chested weakling getting sand kicked in his face at the beach. Their purpose in the film is not to glorify pop culture but to demonstrate how the bulked-up male body image was transmitted to adolescent and even pre-pubescent boys of Chris Bell's generation. Now, of course, it's The Hulk in the movies or Usain Bolt in the Olympics or just the lure of the eight-figure professional sports salary.
The beauty of Bell's film is it's crushing personal impact on his own life and that of his two brothers, Mark (the older) and Mike (the younger), along with their parents. Pudgy kids growing up in Poughkeepsie (NY) with a mother who equated food with love, the three boys suffered the early indignities and name-calling from their schoolmates until they discovered body-building. They began with home wrestling, mimicking what they saw on television and graduating first to a Hulk Hogan set of weights. High school weightlifting and football graduated to collegiate level and, at least for Mike and Mark, entry into the professional wrestling and power-lifting worlds. Along the way, they also entered the world of steroid use. Chris, the most successful weightlifter of the three at high school age, found himself morally repulsed by steroids despite his brothers' use; he opens his own gym rather than follow their competitive pursuits.
This difference between his own attitude and that of his brothers creates the spark that leads Chris into this examination of steroids and sports. Along the way, Bell talks to doctors and congressmen, athletes (including sprinters Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis and cyclist Floyd Landis), cattle ranchers (who parade before him a bull that is doubtless one of the most horrific, genetically-engineered animal mutations imaginable), the publisher of a body-building magazine, and Don Hooton, whose high-school-aged son Taylor committed suicide after he stopped using steroids. Bell goes to fair lengths to present both sides of the "steroids question," both in medical terms as well as what it means in terms of fair competition. Medically, he leaves the impression that questions of danger (brain cancer, `roid rage, etc.) are unresolved, and he remains equally ambiguous regarding the ethical questions surrounding the use of chemical enhancers in sports.
These are not, however, Chris Bell's true concerns; his movie is far more human than that. In the example of his own two brothers, Bell confronts us with the question of male body image and their respective addictions - not to the steroids, but to their physique. One cannot escape the notion that both are endlessly chasing a chimera, reaching for an Olympian god goal that can never be met even as their wives/girlfriends stand helplessly by, watching their obsessions. Bell's parents are equally unable to explain the obsession. However, when he catches them on camera breathlessly celebrating one of their son's power lifting triumphs, Bell has really captured the essence of the question - we can even sacrifice our own children as long as they can be winners, no matter the cost.
Chris Bell cleverly sets off his own family's steroid issues against the greater societal questions in the same matter, a stylistic approach that gives the movie depth and context as well as an almost uncomfortable (but very effective) intimacy. Never in the movie is this so clearly portrayed as in the riveting moments when Chris, while interviewing his mother, informs her that her sons' first steroid supplier was their uncle, her brother. Mr. Bell may not be able to provide many answers, but he is surely asking an awful lot of the right questions.
Not balanced and contradicting itself I don't get why people are putting reviews as "balanced documentary" or "very informative". It's not informative because most of the facts/interviews are anecdotal, so you can't use it as a dependable information (ex. how the brothers are doing fine even though they take steroid) and it doesn't give thorough explanation from experts about how steroid effects the human body. All the 'experts' in this documentary, unfortunately, only point out that steroid does not have that bad an effect to your body. Experts that are against steroid use did not get a lot of chance to say anything. This brings out the point about how 'balanced' this documentary is. The answer is not much. Chris Bell did not give any interview to people who have experienced the adverse effects of anabolic steroid use, let alone dwell in that area.
Another disappointing part of this movie is their logical explanation. When talking about the side effect of steroid, they argue that even vitamin C has adverse effects as with all drugs. Ok, so taking steroid is the same as taking vitamin, right? When talking about athletes that use steroid, they interview people that accuse everybody of doing the same thing. What's your point? It's ok to cheat if everybody else cheats? Sounds more like justification than a reasonable answer to me. Pro athlete should be allowed to use steroid, they argue. Do they think about the implication of it? That means to level the playing field, all athlete will have to take drugs. Furthermore, the game would be less about skill and training and more about who can tolerate most drug and who can design the best drug. It takes away the whole spirit of sports! They argue about the morality of steroid use but they hide their steroid use from their mom. If they believe in it, why can't they explain it to their mom like they're explaining it to us. Smelly is lying to his student about his steroid use. Why does he do that if he really believe nothing is wrong with using steroid?
Throughout the film, I just feel like there's no conclusive point that they're trying to make. They're explaining the positive side of steroid use, but then, their life story cancels it out....more info
Most well rounded doc in a long time "Bigger, Stronger, Faster" is one of the most perfectly assembled documentaries I have seen. There is very little finger pointing, blaming or demonizing steroids. Chris Bell presents facts, thoughts, and figures for us to digest and come to a conclusion to ourselves. Bell speaks to so many experts, and sports figures on both sides of the issue. You really get to see this topic from all sides.
The biggest plus for me, is the way the film is held together by the personal story of his own family. He has two brothers that admittingly are on "the juice". His parents seem blistfully unaware, but you get to see what effects this has on a real family and the brothers discuss candidly why they take them and why they will most likely not stop.
This film is never boring, and really sheds light on a hot button topic. Can't wait for the DVD to see what extras will be on it. As the director has said many scenes were cut out simply for time.
Excellent film for anyone that wants insight on a topic they might know very little about....more info
Excellent!!! Finally the truth about the Ben Johnson' case. The whole world know that the american athletes only compete "in juice". Always there were stories about a tam arriving in a country to a competition and, when knew that they have a dopping test, the whole team returned to america. Also, is was commom, some years ago, that always when a no american athlet won a international competion, some "dopping test" take back the medal and it fall in american hands. We, that live in another countries always was intrigued how it can happen ,if american atlets are always " in juice"?!!
This docummentary show how, explainin that Ben Johson/Carl Lewis controversy and we have only a honest conclusion to this: in a competition wiht all athletes juiced, the real champion was Ben Johnson, not Carl Lewis. However, this film show much more than this and help to clear some myths against steroids.
A much more message dominates the whole film: Why these poor people think that they only worth if they "the first one, the better one, the bigger one"? This point apperas to in Bowling for Columbine. What is wrong with a view of a whole society that can not be happy being good husband, good worker, good friend, good father or mother? THIS IS RESULT OF A IDEOLOGICAL BRAINWASH! You have no right to happiness if you are not a "perfect gear to the system".
Only a point I think that is a little exagerating: Arnold Schwarzenegger is the "dark ship" in this film. Please, when he began, so much muscles was a obstacle, not a advantage, to actor career! He launched a new standard because he is a PERSONALITY. The secret never were his muscles or he never would act in another movies beyond adventures. We always like his face, his voice, his charisma, and if in USA there are thousands of musclemen, the most in juice, how explain that they are not so famous as Schwarzenegger? The muscles never was the answer to success, there is no shortcuts to explain this, some people have qualities that, as unique human beings, help them to be a success in some goals and are obstacles to another, and the most of them are innate qualities, not created qualities, as a brainwasher ideology would like the people believe.
The problem with steroids is the truth: if the champions always tell the truht and the people can choose if they want to risk their health to be "hugge" or "the first one", or if they will choose ohter goal or other heroes that do't use them. For example, if you know that a man 5'9" only can reach 220 lbs with natural training you can be satisfied and a sucess weighting 200-220. But if you, because steroids, believe that a man 5'9" can wieght 280lbs, you will kill yourself trying to reach this, and when you reach ONLY 220lbs you can think that you are a failure. If you know the truth you can choose the truth or the cheating, and analize your sucess in a more realistic base (220 to natural, 280 to juiced). The truth free us, always! ...more info
Documentary Perfection Clever, Funny, Touching!!! An absolute MUST see. A family touched by the use of steriods, a parent's perspective through tragedy and triumph. The good, the bad, the ugly and anything you can imagine in between. This movie is so objective it begs you to have your own opinion about the topic. Don't miss it, buy a copy for your local high school or library... Tons of acurate information that will benefit the masses! ...more info
You must understand what this movie is really about. . . This movie has an agenda. It is made by the Michael Moore folks. The movie is to bash Arnold (and Maria) and call then hypocrites. I am not even sure Chris Bell is aware of this. Why else would these producers back this movie? It was to smear Arnold so he would not get elected in CA.
As far as Chris Bell, he is a smart individual. His genetics are keeping him from looking like Arnold. He could take all the juice, growth hormone, etc and never get there. Arnold never down plays genetics or steriods. You should look up to Arnold. He is an inspiration. There have been many people to take juice to only achieve a fraction of the success. Is the movie entertaining and does it make you think--yes. It actually makes you want to take juice. It is a good film and fun to watch. Just know the hidden agenda which is very subtle....more info
Naturally, or with help? In the world of fitness, health, aging, and competive sports from girls softball, to professional bodybuilding, the cry is always for bigger stronger , faster. So how do we do it? Hard work, proper diet, and acceptance of our genetic limitations, or do we use the lastet magic steroid pill, or an injection of the latest "Super Proton Energy Drug"?
This film is the view of one man's journey to answer this very question.
The film does a reasonable job but neglected ti include the fact that may of the steroids people use to get bigger fast and stronger come from animal products not human. Other than that this is worth a look by anyone seeking the answer to this quetion....more info
The Side Effects of Being American Director Chris Bell and his brothers, Mark and Mike, grew up in the 1980's being obsessed with muscle bound celebrities like Sylvester Stallone, Hulk Hogan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The goal of being the next "Great American Hero" drove all three to begin taking steroids. But Chris eventually stopped. In contrast, Mark "Mad Dog" Bell and Mike "Smelly" Bell have continued using steroids well into adulthood, while pursuing side careers as a pro wrestler and a weight lifter respectively.
Chris's documentary includes interviews with his brothers and parents as well as a wide variety of athletes, medical experts and body builders. The film's subtitle is "The Side Effects Of Being American" and its theme involves the American obsession with competition and winning at all costs.
The last 10 minutes of the doc does a good of making Bell's case for the morally questionable effects caused by this American obsession. But I wish he had done a better job of illustrating the theme throughout the entire length of the movie. Also the scenes with his own family were by far the most emotionally compelling and I think he should have focused more consistent attention on them as well.
Instead the movie tends to jump all over the place, with various "experts" offering all sorts of contradictory opinions. If Bell had done a better job of editing this film might have risen to a higher level. But the fact that the subject of steroids "hits home" with the director in such a personal way takes it a notch above your typical documentary. ...more info
Excellent documentary - don't let its subject matter scare you away! Don't shy away from this documentary because it's about steroids. This has been one of the most surprisingly good documentaries that I have seen in some time. Full of insights and excellently put together, this film's focuses on steroid use in one close, loving family (the mother and father come across as wonderful people - every child should be so lucky to have parents like these). This film isn't afraid to look at the facts and come to conclusions that some would rather that it didn't. This is an entertaining film that has intellectual integrity and that will keep you interested until the closing credits. You'll also see how hypocritical Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzeneggar are. Excellent....more info
Great Doco As an avid weight trainer myself it was interesting to see just how far some people will go in the pursuit of the perfect body or sporting achievement.
The documentary itself was well researched and presented in a very "Michael Moorish" fashion but all the better for it. It's a slice of America very few would like you to see.
From Arnold and Stallone to Carl Lewis and Tiger Woods you see just how far these athletes and stars will bend the rules and manipulate the public to achieve their ends.
A great watch. ...more info
A Wonderful Documentary "Bigger Stronger Faster"
A Wonderful Documentary
America sees herself as the biggest, the strongest, the fastest and the best country in the world. Should we, then, be surprised that so many Americans use performance enhancing drugs? We seem to live by the motto "win at all costs". Director Christopher Bell takes a probing look at this culture by concentrating on his two brothers who took steroids in order to be part of the American dream. This is an intimate and honest film and Bell openly looks at his family and in doing so he forces the viewer to re-evaluate his own pre-conceived notions about American values and steroid use.
We learn that steroids are not just used by professional athletes or Olympians--the drugs are everywhere and are being used by people that we would not ordinarily suspect to do so. Bell pulls back the curtain and shows us just this. Here is a documentary that has all that is necessary to be a good film--interesting subject, honesty and objectivity, entertainment and excellent interviews. It is sensitive and sweeps all of the dirt from under the carpet. It is brutally honest and no one holds back information. We meet the "users" and do not see them necessarily as addicts but as real people who have made some very different choices. It honestly looks at the attitudes that push people into altering what they were born with.
Extremely Informative! I wanted to see this documentary for one, I've always been fascinated by them and wanted to use them. 2, It showed steroid use can be beneficial to everyone. 3, it showed how idiotic our congressmen are and how un-educated they are when it comes to: tobacco, alcohol, and steroids. The idiot who's sone blame's steroids for his son's death is so f*&%ng naive that it's rediculous! He's a flaming idiot
The senator or congressman who didn't know the drinking age was an idiot.
Baseball doesn't want to take responsibility for reaping the benefits of juiced up players.
Congress won't study the benefits of steroid use.
And when it comes down to it, it's your body, do what YOU want to do with it. The hell with everyone else. I enjoyed this movie in its whole entirity. I appreciate how they came at this topic in an educated and well-informed manner. I am glad I saw this movie, and so should anyone else who wants to know just a bit about what people deal with when they use steroids. And not just weightlifters or bodybuilders, but people with HIV and AIDS. It helps everyone! Enough of my ranting. The people apart of this movie have my gratitude. Thank you for creating this movie....more info
Worth Watching This is a well done documentary on steroid use. I would say in the US, but Bell points out how Arnold Schwarzenegger would not have won the body building championships that made him famous if he wasn't using steroids.
All of Chris Bell's heroes had said just work hard, play by the rules and take your vitamins, when all along, they were taking steroids. I believe this movie, in part, is how Bell deals with what it really takes to be number one.
Bell looks at a few other issues like dishonesty in the supplement industry. He points out how, thanks to Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, vitamin companies can put what ever they want in a product and call it proprietary blend. The ingredient could be starch, and they can call it proprietary blend, making sound far more impressive than it really is.
Here's a great example. Life Caps of Utah lifecaps(.)net What's in this stuff?...more info
VERY interesting When I was young I was taught that "knowledge is power". WOOPS! I was wrong. In America, MUSCLE is power. This documentary is very interesting on many levels..really well done....more info
Godspeed Mike Bell "Mad Dog" Mike Bell, a Northeastern independent talent best known for enhancement work in the WWF and a regular performer during the latter end of ECW's run, passed away this afternoon at the age of 37, according to several who were contacted by his brother, former WWE creative team member Chris Bell.
Bell broke into the business in the early 1990s, often teaming with future ECW Baldies and ROH Carnage crew team member Tony Devito doing jobs during Northeastern WWF TV tapings and a lot of the early Monday Night Raws at the Manhattan Center. Bell usually worked as a heel, so he was in the ring with a lot of the top babyfaces of the period.
Bell regularly worked the Northeastern independents and later earned a regular roster spot with the original ECW, in a lower card position, during that company's run on TNN. I don't believe he ever worked any PPV bouts for the company but worked a number of house shows and TV tapings.
At one point, Bell relocated to the West Coast and worked for Rick Bassman's UPW as both a wrestler and trainer (including working with a very young John Cena and one-time WWE talent turned actor Nathan Jones) while also appearing for Dave Marquez' New Japan satellite events in the Los Angeles area and other California-based companies.
Despite all the years he worked in the business, Bell may best be remembered by fans for an incident that took place in May 2001 at a WWF TV taping. Bell was to do the job for then-WWF wrestler Perry Saturn at the Nassau Coliseum. When a spot went awry during an enhancement bout being taped for the Metal/Jakked syndicated series, Saturn threw Bell out of the ring with reckless abandon, then stiffly smacked his head into the metal steps outside the ring. Saturn ended up with a lot of heat over the incident at the time. The beating pretty much aired unedited shortly after it happened.
Bell was used in dark matches as late as 2003 by WWE but was never signed by the company.
Bell was featured in the steroid documentary "Bigger, Stronger, Faster" which came out last year on the festival circuit before a short theatrical run and DVD release earlier this year. The film, which was directed by his brother Chris and featured a look at how steroid use affected all three brothers in the family, two of which looked to get into the wrestling industry and one, who was a professional bodybuilder.
There is no known cause of death at this time, although in the documentary, he had previous health issues that were noted It was also reported when the film began getting reviewed in the national media that Bell had previously attempted suicide.
Our deepest condolences go out to Bell's friends and family during this sad time.
ENGAGING AND INFORMATIVE DOCUMENTARY ABOUT STEROIDS Chris Bell grew up idolizing Hulk Hogan and believed that if he "said his prayers and took his vitamins" that he too could one day be the best that he could be, and be a hero like the Hulkster. Only one problem with that; it was a facade and Hulk Hogan testified in court to having taken steroids for 12 years. After that Cris saw his sports heroes go tumbling down one by one in his purist mind by finding out the steroid dirt on all of them. The tooth fairy isn't real and neither were all of those muscles on television. It was a rude awakening for a short, chubby kid who believed that if he followed Hulk Hogan's mantra that he could be Mr. Everything.
That's the introduction but this documentary goes far deeper than that. It is an exploration of Chris's family as well as an evenly balanced look at the opinions on the pros and cons of steroid usage. He has two brothers who are power lifters, as is Chris, and while he's clean his brothers are on steroids to lift the most possible weight that they can. In one scene in the film his steroid-taking brother benches over 100 pounds more than him in competition.
Chris spends ample time dissecting his own family and WHY two of his brothers turned to steroids while getting the entire panorama of opinions on the true consequences of steroids.
He begins with how they came to be made and then how they came to be seen for what they can do for, and to, ones body.
His brothers seem to be detached from reality by their answers to Chris's questions but they're very muscular and that's what they want. Even when they have many great things going for them that steroids can possibly derail. That's the true definition of addiction. Chris quizzes everyone and is genuinely attentive to their opinions. He seems to be making his mind up as the documentary proceeds.
Along with the various interviews and videos of congressmen, doctors, steroid practitioners and advocates, and people from the modeling world Chris interviews and AIDS patient whose life has been extended and whose T cell count has gone up as a result of using steroids. The film vacillates between people who are helped and harmed by the drugs. You are simply presented with what the documentarian finds and allowed to make up your own mind as Chris seems to be considering everything with you.
One section that I found to be particularly telling is his exposure of the modeling industry as a complete sham. They add six pack abs and make bodies look bigger by using computers. Also, he examines the bodybuilding supplement racket and how it isn't regulated.
This is one of the most sincere and entertaining documentaries that I have ever seen and this film couldn't have called it right down the middle any better. Thought provoking, entertaining, and well crafted. I give this gem 5 stars and look forward to Chris Bell's future efforts.
Definitely worth watching. This is a very well produced documentary. The director offers multiple views from a variety of individuals on steroids. The director's goal was not to debase nor promote steroids. He produced the film in such a way that by the end of the documentary you could make your own call on steroids. If you're going to watch this film, go into it with an "open-mind". Leave your biases at the door. It will make watching the film a more rewarding experience....more info
Excellent Documentary The best documentary I've seen in years. I recommend this to everyone, whether you're interested in the U.S. drug policy controversy, from one side or the other, or if you just want to learn something or see something interesting.
I can't understand how the creator got some of these people to say the things they did on camera, and I have to give serious credit to Don Hooton for standing up and debating the issues relating to the death of his son, clearly knowing the interviewer disagreed with him.
An excellent use of 2 hours of my life....more info
Where Have All the Heroes Gone? "That, that, that don't kill me, can only make me stronger." Kanye West-"Stronger"
`Bigger, Stronger, Faster' is fair, fun, and informative. Thoroughly taking every angle on the issue of steroid use, filmmaker Christopher Bell has ample material to back up his case for and against one of the most used and abused drugs going nowadays.
First he focuses on his own family. He is the middle child of three boys. Mike "Mad Dog" Bell is the eldest, and Mark "Smelly" Bell is the youngest. All three have aspirations of bigness. Literally. Mark wants to be a professional wrestler, and Mike wants to be a champion power-lifter. All three have used steroids. Chris, the narrator, only used it once, but stopped because he thought it was "immoral". This openness may have us questioning his credentials, but he is as thorough as he is fair.
Among his interviewees are John Romaro, senior editor of `Muscular Development,' Dr. Guy Wilder, New Jersey Congressman, Henry Waxman, Floyd Landis, Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson. His highlights include video clips from several steroid scandals, including the ones on Capital Hill featuring Jose Canseco, Mark McGuire, and Barry Bonds. We also get some footage of Senator Joe Biden's indignation as well as Senator Orin Hatch's impassioned pleas for deregulation of supplements.
To indicate the fairness and breadth of this documentary, Bell interviews an HIV survivor who testifies and shows convincing evidence that steroids have saved and improved his life. Another selling point is when he interviews Donald Hooton, father of his deceased son, Keller, who allegedly took his own life after withdrawing from steroids. Here they reveal that the boy was on prescription anti-depressants as well. On the con side, he interviews Gregory Valentino, who admits that steroid abuse have given him the largest, but most hideous biceps. He even interviews porn star, Christian Boeving, for Pete's sake.
One of the best features Bell presents is the straightforward "Steroids 101," which sorts out myth from fact well on the side effects of steroids.
Although he tries, as a filmmaker he isn't as smooth or funny as Morgan Spurlock or Andy Rooney, but his thrust is so exhaustive, yet honest, you can't help but admire his ability to present a case and let the people watching make up their own minds. Christopher Bell doesn't hide his misgivings about those whom he felt cheated to win, but it's rare that you get someone so upfront about his agenda, yet so willing to give everyone a chance to speak their minds.
Little man complex tacken to the extreme with naivitity No one other than 12 year old bots are shocked when they find out Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hulk Hogan used anabolic steroids. The documentary is angled from the smallest of three brother who doesn't use steroids and his brothers do. They are also much physically larger than him as well which describes most of the physical advantages, and in part steroids.It takes you through the life of gym rat junkies thinking muscles with open the door to fame and fortune. The three brothers are moderately obese but strong as horses. This fact eludes them throughout the film, while at the same time having the minds of 21 year old boys in grown men's bodies. I mean no disrespect to the brother with a learning disability but the other two were pathetic.
Was really only impressed with the view interviews of congressmen and people giving testimony as to the shallow depth of coverage banning decisions were based on.
I'm sure it will continue to get five stars based on the level of interest in learning about the subculture. In fact it almost tells you how to enlist. (Freeze frame when the football coach open his stash).
Physically strong, morally weak This film suffers from the same thing its director suffers from: an utter inability to make moral or ethical distinctions of any kind.
You first sense this when you hear "America" or "being American" blamed for or lumped in with hypocrisy, lying, cheating, drug taking, etc. Personal responsibility seems absent from the film. Everyone is fundamentally a victim. These people suffer the "side effects of being American". What sort of pompous, morally vacuous mind rot is this? America or its culture is at fault for your crappy life, and your poor decisions? Please.
The film also expends a great deal of time and energy defending steroids and their users. It draws warped and illogical comparisons between steroids and alcohol, among other things. It asks questions such as "why is one legal but the other isn't?", and then never even attempts to answer the questions.
After defending steroids and steroid users, the film then spends an equally large amount of time lamenting over the fact that people do not feel good enough about themselves and that this is largely the fault of America and American culture.
Essentially the message of the film is that steroids are good and everyone should have access to them, but America and its culture are bad and if America and its culture weren't so screwed up, people wouldn't feel compelled to use steroids in the first place.
It's an entertaining film packed full of nonsense and confusion. Rent it, but don't buy it....more info
He opened up his entire family. The director does an incredible job of informing the audience on many different aspects of steriods, from politics to scientific to social pressure. It must have been extremely difficult to open up his family about the use of steriods. He had good parents and yet it was so eye opening as to how the pressures of being "BIGGER STRONGER FASTER" impacted him. It's well directed with animated visual aids, pop references, and humor. It educated me and at the same time, I was consistantly engaged. Being involved in poltics, being a former producer, and a current rugby player I found it enthralling on a myriad of levels. Thank you, Mr. Bell and the Bell family....more info
The Real Story of Steroids This movie cuts through the common misconceptions of steroid use and shows the true effects and side-effects of the drug, the supplement industry, and the culture that surrounds it. The filmmaker does a great job of presenting the facts and leaving the conclusions up to the viewer. As such, you will see people that think that this is a pro-steroid movie because it debunks the various prevarications of the anti-steroid crowd; and you will see people that think this is an anti-steroid movie because its use is neither glorified nor advocated....more info
Both sides of the story This movie opened my mind to the use of steroids. I think it is one that everyone should see. It is not really what I thought it was going to be, it was actually better....more info
Fantastic This movie is outstanding. One of the best documentaries I've ever seen. The movie uses performance enhancing drugs as a means for taking an inside look at all of American culture. Chris Bell has a really fascinating take on the issue.
I love sports and weightlifting, and this movie really leaves you thinking. Sure using PEDS is cheating, but is this any different from a concert musician using beta blockers before a performance, or American fighter pilots taking amphetamines (when no other country uses them)??
Fantastic movie, see this!...more info
Bigger, Stronger, Faster Well presented and researched. I would have liked to see more information on steroids as they relate to heart problems....more info
Chris Bell's Engaging, Heartfelt Look At Steroids and his Family "Bigger, Stronger, Faster", the new documentary from Chris Bell, and produced by many of the people who have worked on Michael Moore's documentaries, is a very entertaining, level-handed look at the use of steroids in America.
"Bigger" is better than your average documentary for two key reasons. Chris Bell is a likable, very real guy and he guides us through this maze of information much like he probably learned about it in the first place, giving us an in depth look into the use of steroids and how they have affected both the practice and perception of sports in America, and to a lesser extent, the world.
The second, and perhaps more important reason this film sticks out is because it comes from a personal place in Chris' life. As he quickly explains during the beginning of the film, he was the middle of three children, all boys, who grew up with a loving, overweight mother and a loving, but busy with work father. In an attempt to stand out from the rest of the kids, each of the brothers decides to take up weight lifting and try to become famous as wrestlers, hoping to follow the likes of their heroes, Hulk Hogan, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger into the limelight. They each transform their chubby bodies into bulky muscle powerhouses, but the fame is still fleeting.
Chris' older brother, Mark, actually makes it into the WWE, but his role is that of the guy who always gets beaten up by the more powerful and more famous wrestlers. He doesn't last long. So he starts to take steroids.
Chris decides the way to make it into the limelight is to move to Southern California, to be closer to the action, and the auditions. He naturally ends up at Venice Beach and gets a job working in Gold's Gym, the place made famous by many weightlifters and body builders, by Schwarzenegger and Stallone. In a particularly telling moment, Chris speaks with one of the gym members, a man well past his prime who continues to work out at the gym, and lives in his small van in the gym parking lot. You can tell from the expression on Chris' face he sees the similarities between them as he looks at the guys living quarters. You can almost see him pray that he won't end up in the same situation; homeless, working out, continuing to hope for stardom.
Chris' younger brother, Mike, had development problems growing up, so he decided to follow his other brothers into weightlifting and bodybuilding. This focus clearly helped him to improve his life and his attention to detail, but he also decides to try to improve the workouts through the use of steroids.
Chris knows his brothers use steroids, but he has stayed away from them. He wonders why one of three children would feel the need to do things the 'right' way, the harder way, and stay away from the drugs? This is what leads him on the journey through this documentary.
The best scenes involve Chris and his family. On a visit home, he talks to his mom, a perfectly likable, overweight, middle-aged woman who spends her life as a stay-at-home mom. As they talk, she makes a batch of her famous bar cookies for a local high school sports team. It is unclear why she still makes these for the local high school, but it is clear the bars are both very good and not low fat. Chris claims his mother doesn't know that his brother use steroids. She may not admit it, but you can tell she knows. Late in the film, Chris has dinner with his brothers and mom and dad and steers the conversation towards steroids, hoping that his brothers will finally admit it to their parents. Mom asks a few questions, giving the brothers an opportunity to come clean. But they keep their secret. And so does mom.
As he meets with and talks to his brothers, we learn each of their stories and they couldn't be more different.
But Chris also seeks to understand the influence of steroids throughout sports. He speaks with many people, both pro and con, amateur and professional, and it appears that everyone is using some sort of enhancement. As the tagline for the film states "if everyone is doing something, can it be illegal?"
He talks about how heartbroken he was when he learned Hulk Hogan was using steroids, despite all of the famous wrestler's encouragement to get bigger through hard work. He talks about former NFL player Lyle Alzado's sickness, which the NFL Player attributed to the use of steroids. Interestingly, the footage from an interview used in the film features Maria Shriver in her pre-Mrs. Ahnuld career. He talks about Stallone and interviews both Carl Lewis and Floyd Landis. These moments, interspersed with graphics, and other amusing methods of presenting the message, combined with the personal side of the story, make for compelling viewing.
There are also a few scenes from an old after school special featuring Ben Affleck dealing with the side effects of using steroids. These scenes provide a welcome moment of laughter because they are so over the top and heavy handed.
I think Chris may have actually found his entry into the limelight. I could easily see him parlaying this film into a television series or series of specials, ala Morgan Spurlock. They have similar personalities and Spurlock has made a number of films and season 3 of "30 Days", the series of documentaries he makes for FX is currently airing. Chris is an extremely pleasant, likable person who clearly listens to his subjects, whatever their position, taking everything in. As he presents both sides of the argument, he appears to be genuinely interested in what they have to say, waiting for them to finish and for his mind to process before forming an opinion of his own....more info
Thought provoking documentary that may shatter your preconceptions .. "Our heroes have always used steroids ..." Or is that how the song goes???
I expected this to be an anti-steroid film. It was neither that nor a pro-steroid commercial. Instead, it is a thoughtful and thought-provoking documentary of the role of performance enhancers in our society. It seems to imply that steroids are wrapped up in the American culture (though elsewhere the film implies that the American sports establishment started using them to ape the Soviets, echo were kicking our butts in the Olympics.)
Focal to the story is the tale of three brothers from Poughkeepsie, NY. Adolescent chubbies, all three grew up to worship weightlifting, which took them on common paths of anabolic steroid use.
(Any film that makes Rep. Henry Waxman look like an idiot can't be all bad, not that that is such a difficult task.)
This film will grab you by the biceps and pecs, command your attention and make cause you to re-think much of what we have been conditioned to decide about anabolic steroids.
Expose of our Media Hype This documentary, while vastly entertaining, captures the sad state of our societal addiction to hype, as reflected in the history of steroids. Our media deals with the subject by hyping half truths that vacillate between physical damage and sports ethics. Chris exposes this with real truths focusing on the fact that virtually anything in excess can be physically damaging. Ethics in sports is often determined by the media hype stimulating our politicians and attendant approval bodies. An amazing amount of wasted energy is being expended to demonize steroids, which this documentary proves. It also put credible evidence in place that steroids just might be a benefit on the order of Wheaties if they are ever really clinically evaluated. One of the best documentaries I have ever watched...more info
Bigger, Stronger, Faster Bigger, Stronger, Faster maybe the best documentary I have ever seen. Very interesting, honest, and memorable view of the culture of being American. Step on over "Pumping Iron" as "Bigger, Stronger, Faster" is my new all time favorite documentary.
Finally..the truth about steroid use. One sign of a great documentary is they way it makes you rethink the party line on whatever topic is being addressed. This movie does exactly that -- in contrast to the countless TV news segments on the horrors of steroid use this movie attempts to paint a more balanced picture of this subject. Now, common sense tells you that ANYTHING that you put into your body that turns you into a 24" neckline hulk is PROBABLY not the best thing for you. But, it's clear that this is the image of 'perfection' that popular media and sports has portrayed to our youth since the dawn of the TV age. The same image that Congress recently demonized through the attention-whore antics displayed through their MLB hearings. (BTW Congress...thanks for 'solving' this threat to the USA while you allowed energy costs to spiral out of control and help nudge us even further into a recession...gee I'm impressed with our leadership).
The way the movie points out that ANY profession that can be benefited by chemically enhanced performance will drive the competitors for the profession to seek out and use said chemicals (including musicians who audition for placement in a paid orchestra!) is a real eye opener.
No easy answer to this subject, and no attempt to hand out an answer is given by this movie. But, it makes you think. Which is a good thing.
Really impressive contribution by a young previously unheard of filmmaker. I look forward to seeing the next piece of work from Mr. Bell. Buy or rent this documentary. You won't be disappointed....more info
Pumping Iron Growing up, Poughkeepsie natives Christopher Bell and his two brothers idolized male figures like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hulk Hogan, and Sylvester Stallone, who all represented the American ideals of strength, determination, and above all, victory. Consider the fact that, in a 1984 edition of "Championship Wrestling," Hogan defeated the Iron Sheik, a pro wrestler from Iran. As both Rocky and Rambo, Stallone fought against a number of foreign adversaries and won. Schwarzenegger was not born in America, but hey, he sure knew how to kick butt on the big screen. Of course, he did become an American citizen, and as we all know, he managed to be elected as Governor of California.
So what did the Bell brothers learn from all this? Aside from the fact that they all became bodybuilders after growing up overweight, they learned that ours is not only the greatest country, but also the strongest. If you want to be a hero, then you have to be the best. But as they got older, the Bells learned the truth: Their heroes became the best only through the use of steroids.
What's so fascinating about Christopher Bell's documentary "Bigger, Stronger, Faster*: *The Side Effects of Being American" is that it exposes hypocrisy, although not in the way you might expect. We're always so vocal in our opposition to performing enhancing drugs, and yet they're needed because we demand the absolute best out of sports figures. So what's worse? Steroids or weakness? This is a question Bell himself continues to grapple with, having given up on steroids after years of believing that they were the way to go. His brothers, however, still use them to this day. One of them, Mike Bell (nicknamed Mad Dog), even tried his hand at getting into pro wrestling. The thing is, he wants to be a superstar, not an athlete. This may explain why he's only been able to achieve minor status as pro wrestling's preplanned loser. Despite the fact that he's now considered too old for it, Mad Dog continues to train; "I was born to attain greatness," he tells his brother, "and I'm the only one that's holding myself back."
The other brother, Mike Bell (nicknamed Smelly), gave up on a wrestling career to teach PE at a local school. He's settled down with a beautiful wife and has a son. But he's still a competitive weightlifter, which is to say that he must juice up to keep himself in top form. At one point, he promised his wife that he would give steroids up. Later on, when he's alone with his brother and his camera crew, he freely admits that he was lying. What's interesting is that he admits it without a shred of guilt in his voice. Bell expresses his concern, saying he's worried about his brother losing his wife, his job, and his life in general. Smelly claims that he'll have nothing left if he loses his either of those things, although I can't help but feel he was just telling his brother what he wanted to hear.
This isn't to say that Smelly was taking like an addict. Indeed, part of this documentary's mission is to tells us that, by in large, steroid use isn't all that dangerous. Consider the fact that anabolic steroids are used in everyday medical practice for the treatment of cancer, HIV, asthma, and osteoporosis. Are there side effects? Sure, but all medications have side effects. Bell seems to pointing out what marijuana advocates continue to point out: There are worse drugs out there. Bell takes a moment to point out that the United States is the only country in the world that requires its fighter pilots to use amphetamines to keep alert. In April of 2002, two pilots in Afghanistan mistakenly dropped a bomb that killed four Canadians; in all likelihood, the "go pills" they were given before the mission impaired their judgment. In spite of this, the media will pounce on professional athletes like Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire, who both made national headlines when they were caught using steroids. The question is: Would they have achieved greatness without getting that special boost?
One of Bell's most fascinating interviews was with Donald Hooton of Plano, Texas. In 2003, his teenage son, Taylor, committed suicide. He was a baseball player who used anabolic steroids to improve his game. When he quit using, he fell into a deep depression and never came out, even though he was prescribed an antidepressant. Ever since then, Hooton has been on a mission to raise awareness and provide counsel for teen athletes and their parents. Bell makes an observation: If Hooton wants to raise awareness, why not include information on other abused substances, like antidepressants, some of which are known to induce suicidal thoughts? Hooton asserts that it was steroid use and nothing else that killed his son, which is to say that he doesn't want to focus on other substances. He claims that it's not just about putting an asterisk next to the names of every professional athlete that's ever used; "The primary issue is the kids," he said in an interview with Bob Greene of WFAA TV. "Their idols are making the choice to use performing enhancing drugs and the kids are following their lead."
Not at all unlike what happened to Bell. But if the facts and figures he presents in "Bigger, Stronger, Faster*" are accurate, if his resources are reliable, then there must come a point when we need to stop playing the blame game. Then again, the decriminalization of steroids wouldn't change the fact that Americans are far too fixated on an ideal that, in most cases, won't be met. Bell interviews a number of older bodybuilders who never advance yet always seem to be in training; there's something so depressing about them, the way they stare at old billboard-sized photos of Arnold Schwarzenegger as they continuously lift and lower their barbells....more info
Not So Bigger, Stronger, Faster While I appreciate the intent here, this documentary turned out to be much less than I expected. The story of the contrast among the paths of Chris, Mike and Mark certainly add to the story, but are such a focal point that I felt we were missing some additional real-life, non-celebrity stories that could have made it a fuller piece.
As a former writer for men's fitness magazines, I had a special interest in this subject. I was not surprised at the angle of the many experts who believe anabolic steroids are not dangerous. This is a well-presented aspect of the documentary and was bold to include.
I have a bit less tolerance for the fact that "society" created these desires in people only because it falls short of being well-illustrated. While definitely an influence, this could have been better tempered with an understanding of why some guys do and some guys don't. The story of Chris/Mike/Mark does not cleverly demonstrate this; it just states repeatedly that Chris feels it's morally wrong and the others don't.
While a front-and-center doc host like Morgan Spurlock of "Super-Size Me" works beautifully, Chris and his brothers were not interesting enough to have that much air time in this particular documentary. Also, Spurlock's spicy, fun personality added much more flair to his doc. Nor does this come across with a hard-hitting hand like a Michael Moore piece, which startles you with its pointedness.
Not bad, but certainly falls short of great....more info
Biceps in Balance! Bigger, Stronger, Faster is a well done, honestly written documentary that avoids the usual hyperbole involved in the steroid debate. It's balanced and personal and deals with real lives of people who you know and with whom you work and live. It stays away exclusive focus on steriod usage in the upper eschalon of athletes and bodybuilders. And the personal struggles and the willingness to do whatever at whatever risk to achieve a goal is both insightful as well as a bit chilling. I left watching this a little less clear about my opinion than I was before -- and that's a sign of a well done presentation. ...more info
Even better than I expected! I wanted to see this film ever since it got outstanding reviews during its theatrical run. Unfortunately, that theatrical run did not include my town. However, when I watched the dvd, I found that the reviews did not do this film justice.
Chris Bell's film blows away anything that Michael Moore puts out for the reason that even though Bell is against steroids, he realizes that there is a huge gray area with this subject (as there is with almost any topic). Bell points out (rightly so), that performance enchancing drugs are a way of life in just about any walk of life, and that the majority of steroid users are the average Joes wanting to look better, not athletes. He also points out that for all the ranting and raving about the dangers of steroids, alcohol and tobacco abuse count for way more illness and death than do the abuse of steroids. These are fine points that are never brought up by Congress or the mainstream press.
The best part of the film has to go to Bell's delving into why people feel the need to use performance enhancing drugs. The answer? The strong love of a winner found in society. Like I said earlier, this film is even better than the positive reviews it is receiving, and I would put it right up there with "Super-Size Me" as one of the better documentaries released recently. Do yourself a favor and pick this film up - you won't regret it....more info
Compelling! From STRONGANDFIT.NET
Christopher Bell and his two brothers were typical kids of the 80's. They grew up watching Hulk Hogan, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Like their idols, all three of the Bell brothers began lifting weights. Christopher's brothers even pursued wrestling careers, and used steroids to enhance their performance. Bigger, Stronger, Faster explores the impact of steroid use on Christopher's family and America as a whole.
This movie hits close to home on many levels. Christopher is my age, and like me, he's a formerly chubby kid who to turned to weights in his teenage years. I can also relate to his admiration of Hogan, Stallone, and Schwarzenegger (I bought Arnold's Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding) when I was a teenager.
I think this is the best documentary I've ever watched. Here are a few of my impressions:
*I'm embarrassed by the amount of time and money our government has put into the "steroid problem"--is this really a national crisis? All we have to show for their efforts is legislation based on zero research.
*There's a great deal of hypocrisy in the way America looks at steroids. Getting corrective eye surgery is not cheating, but steroid use is. We pay millions to watch athletes to perform at super-human levels, but we get upset when they use every means necessary to do so.
*The people you "meet" in this movie are fascinating case studies. They represent our obsession with both physical perfection and false hopes.
*I love the way Bell exposes the media hysteria regarding steroids. Bell neither promotes nor condemns steroid use. Instead, he attempts to present both sides of the issue.
If you want to see a brutally honest look at the steroid issue, buy this movie.
Fascinating look at steroids' effect on the lives of the Bell family Chris Bell's "Bigger, Stronger Faster*" is a brilliant documentary. His triumph is to crystallize the steroids debate into its effects on a single family: His own. The stars of the film are the Bell brothers - big brother Mark (aka, Mad Dog) is a would-be WWE wrestler; younger brother Mike (aka, Smelly) is one of the world's top power lifters; and writer/director Chris - no less addicted to perfecting his physique - balances his bodybuilding obsession with a degree from USC Film School. His unique blend of interest and career path has given us a fascinating film.
Here's the thing: his work is neither ardently pro- nor anti-steroids. But, as its subtitle ("the side-effects of being American") implies, Bell notes what happens when three young brothers obsessed with wrestling (we see family tapes of them re-enacting WWE plotlines) have the various heroes of their youth (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hulk Hogan, and Sylvester Stallone as notable examples) subsequently revealed as pharmaceutically-fueled.
It's a testament to Bell's skill as a filmmaker that the unexpected standout is Smelly's wife, Andie. Attractive and articulate, she emerges as the soul of the film. She comes across as a decent, trusting person. Without belaboring the point, Bell makes you see her as testament to his brother's depth and inherent goodness. Her presence also evokes feelings of betrayal in the film-goer when Smelly begins to waffle on his "no more steroids" vow at the end of the film.
Despite the glut of documentaries that have flooded the film world over the past two years, this one ranks at the top of my list. ...more info
Brilliant!! Loved this movie. It was so well done. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in steroid use. It was handled in an objective manner and lets the viewer make up their own opinion....more info