Chris Bell wants us to believe America wrote him a bad check. Heeding the advice of his childhood heroes Hulk Hogan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bell and his two beefy, steroid-using brothers (named "Mad Dog" and "Stinky"—I'm totally serious) took as gospel that by working out, saying their prayers, and taking their vitamins, they would indeed be the biggest, the strongest, and the fastest—only to find out the rest of the world was never playing by the same rules.
Bell directs and stars in this Michael Moore-esque documentary about our country's obsession with being the best, and our complicated relationship with the questionable methods we're willing to use to get there. Ostensibly a film about the "unfair" demonization of steroids, Bell uses Bigger, Stronger, Faster to make a surprisingly convincing argument: Bell doesn't really say we should use steroids, but he does ask the pretty good question of why shouldn't we use steroids? With an impressive interviewee list made up of scientists, psychiatrists, Olympic coaches, and Carl Lewis (Carl Lewis! He's still alive!), Bell manages to take his personal issue and extrapolate it into a discussion worth having. If everyone is "cheating" in some way—Air Force pilots are required to take amphetamines on long flights, while Tiger Woods had Lasik eye surgery—then why are steroids so bad?
My only real criticism with Bigger, Stronger, Faster is that while it raises the question of why some things are thought of as okay (surgically attained near-perfect vision for a golfer, apparently, is fine) while other things are condemned (like Roger Clemens getting all 'roided out), the documentary never completely goes the distance to explain why the government—who we know has a financial stake in everything from drugs to professional sports—would then denounce performance enhancements as un-American and illegal. Bell's movie is smart and entertaining, but one suspects he could've found a bigger, stronger story had he chased that steroid money trail.