Directed by Christopher Bell. With Chris Bell, Mike Bell, Mark Bell and Rosemary Bell. Distributed by Magnolia Picture. 1 hour, 46 mins.


(vulgarity, adult content, violent images, drug content). Playing at: Ritz Five, Showcase at the Ritz/NJ.

The performance-enhancing quality behind this muscular movie is director Chris Bell's willingness to go far beyond the call of duty.

It might have worked perfectly well as a family story - both of Bell's brothers are body builders who've wrestled with steroids - but Bell sees the issue of drugs and sports as a metaphor for the overachieving ethos of Americans at large (no kidding) and their ability to see exactly what they want to see: Arnold Schwarzenegger? The poster boy for steroids denied his substance abuse for years, as did people like Sylvester Stallone, Hulk Hogan, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster* isn't all hand-wringing and doomsday scenarios. Bell tries to impose a little sanity on the hysteria surrounding artificial hormones, piercing the political posturing: The ever-pious Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) is indicted for legislating shamelessly on behalf of Utah's supplement industry; Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat who chaired congressional inquiries into baseball, couldn't be more uninformed.

Bell's narration is a bit gee-whiz, but a journey out of naivete is what this film is all about.

- John Anderson, Newsweek