A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this documentary discusses the benefits and downsides of illegal and legal drug use and not in a balanced manner. Because the director interviews his brothers who use anabolic steroids and other drugs, his perspective is skewed and viewers will be able to tell that despite his reservations about drugs, the director admires his brothers regardless. Also, the dangers are played down, and the overwhelming statement that "everyone is doing it" smacks of justification. Drugs are shown being injected, and pills are taken to achieve a different state of being.
What's the story?
Director Chris Bell takes an up-close and personal look into the world of performance enhancing drug use. So personal, that he interviews his brothers extensively about their use of anabolic steroids and other drugs. During his study of the history of steroid use, he uncovers some facts and sheds light on why doping is such a hot topic these days. Athletes like Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson are interviewed about their admitted (or secret) doping. Senate hearings are tapped into, and baseball heroes like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Jose Canseco are shown talking about-- or denying -- doping.
Is it any good?
What's disturbing about this documentary, however witty and interesting it is, is how very close the subject is to the director. His analysis becomes skewed, regardless of the fact that he personally objects to doping. His love, admiration, and pity for his brothers sways him in a way that an outsider to the pressures of the bodybuilding world would not feel. On the other hand, he explores the topic of hypocrisy and cheating in a very succinct manner. Ultimately, Bell believes that American culture is the problem. He deduces simply that "in America, cheaters always prosper."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why being the best is so important in our society. Do you feel the need to have an edge over your peers? How far would you go to be number one? How does Smelly lie to his family and his students? How is he lying to himself? What does cheating really mean? Do the people who use anabolic steroids in this film behave differently than those who do not?
- In theaters: October 8, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: September 30, 2008
- Cast: Chris Bell, Hank Aaron, Mark Bell
- Director: Christopher Bell
- Studio: Magnolia Pictures
- Genre: Documentary
- Run time: 106 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic material involving drugs, language, some sexual content and violent images
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