Stop at Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Stop at Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story Movie Poster Image
Intense docu about cyclist's fraud has some strong language.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 104 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Importance of honesty and ethics in sports; dangers of a winners-obsessed culture; cautionary tale against lionizing athletes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The majority of the athletes, friends, and members of the cycling community come across as decent people who wanted to believe the best in Armstrong, but had no choice but to distance themselves once his fraudulent behavior was revealed. Husband and wife Frankie and Betsy Andreu come across as particularly maligned yet brave in the face of Armstrong's deception and campaign to discredit those who accused him of doping. Armstrong is portrayed as sociopathic to the end.

Violence
Sex
Language

"F--k," "ass," "hell," "s--t," "whore," "piss."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Extensive discussion of the use of illegal, performance-enhancing drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Stop at Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story is a documentary about the increasing skepticism about Lance Armstrong's doping, his eventual exposure, and the lives and friendships destroyed in the process while Armstrong wages a campaign to discredit everyone who won't cover for him. There are numerous uses of "f--k" by Betsy Andreu as well as some other profanity, but overall, intriguing messages about hero worship and its inevitable cost. 

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What's the story?

Lance Armstrong fooled the world about the extent of his gifts as a cyclist, but eventually the friends he relied on to protect his extensive doping scheme would expose him after he asked too much of them. Archival footage of news conferences, depositions, press conferences, and key interviews with former friends and members of the cycling community show how deep the deception went, and to what lengths Armstrong was willing to go to protect his image as an extraordinary winner.

Is it any good?

If you followed the Armstrong case at all, there's not much in STOP AT NOTHING: THE LANCE ARMSTRONG STORY that feels breakthrough. But there's something to piecing together the full timeline of events with Armstrong's persistent denials, badmouthing, and stonewalling that gives viewers an added grasp on the extent of the deception and the nightmare of the experience for the former friends and fellow cyclists he dragged through the mud.

There's a bit of f-bomb profanity throughout from Betsy Andreu, in some cases understandable because she was particularly maliciously discredited by Armstrong. But for sports fans or those interested in watching how we build our heroes up, only to tear them down, there's a good train wreck here to pick over and discuss. Teens will extract a glimpse of understanding into our desperate need to believe that athletes are gods among men, when they are, in fact, just men.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Stop at Nothing's portrayal of Armstrong. Is he humanized at all in the documentary? Why or why not?

  • How much does the culture of needing winners or heroes factor into the Armstrong story? What does his ability to get away with doping for so long say about us as sports fans?

  • What was the price of honesty for some of the people in the documentary? Do you think those who lied should be forgiven? What was the real consequence of Armstrong's deceit?

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