The other day, I brought you the
While their selection lags in a lot of areas, Netflix Instant (no, they’re not paying me) does have a nice collection of cool documentaries you probably missed in the theater, one of which is Chris Bell’s Bigger, Stronger, Faster* from 2008. The asterix in the title is “the side effect of being American”, which makes it sound like it’s going to be some cutesy kitschy Morgan Spurlock kind of thing, but it’s really not. Bell uses himself and his two brothers’ obsession with pro wrestling and buff movie stars of the 80s like Stallone and Schwarzenegger to frame a straightforward documentary about steroid culture, media hysteria, and at the root of it all, the hypocrisy with which we deal with it. Sorry to sound like the jacket copy, but all the congressional hearings and lack of hard science in our dealings with steroids in the movie seemed pretty prescient, especially in light of this week’s Four Loko insanity. (“My child got drunk on this alcoholic beverage! Call the president!”)
The film’s probably a little longer than it has to be and might not be as lurid as, say, Cocaine Cowboys, but it’s a great watch, and more than anything else, it was nice to see a documentary with a natural, first-person narrator, compelling characters, and an important story to tell. It just goes to show that if you’ve got a story to tell, you can just tell it. You don’t have to turn it into some grandiose film school exercise with split screens and overwrought metaphors and f*cking slam poems about Tupac.