Film Review: BIGGER (USA 2017) **


The inspirational tale of the grandfathers of fitness as we now know it, Joe and Ben Weider. Facing anti-Semitism and extreme poverty, the brothers beat all odds to build an empire and inspire future generations.


George Gallo

Originally entitled BIGGER THAN LIFE, the film has had its title changed to just BIGGER, perhaps not to be confused with the Nicholas Ray 1956 film.  The title LARGER THAN LIFE has also already been taken by the Carol Channing documentary.  BIGGER tells the story of two Canadian boys and how they shaped the fitness industry into the multibillion-dollar industry it is today.

The film unfolds in flashback as told by an elderly Joe Welder (Robert Forster) during his brother, Eddie’s funeral.

BIGGER falls into the trap of being too willing to please.  Director Gallo includes too many romantic episodes and too many incidents that have Joe ending up looking good.

Gallo’s script is so manipulative, it becomes too obvious what he is trying to do.  In one scene, Joe (Tyler Hoechlin) is trying to get his health/bodybuilding magazine financed by a big publisher who when seeing him, is coughing and smoking like a chimney.  The irony is noted.  Gallo does this a second time when Joe seeks finance from a smoking and fat banker.  Joe is supposed to be short in the emotions side.  This fact is made known in bed right after a lovemaking session where his girl, Betty (Julianne Hough) freaks out at not knowing anything about him.  Ok – the audience gets the point.  There is no need for her to go on and on nagging him with Joe maintaining his “je ne sais quoi” facial expression.  The musical score is also there to ensure the audience feels the way they are supposed to during the different scenes.

Subtlety is clearly lacking in the film.  This is not helped by Kevin Durand overacting in his role as arrival publisher, Hauk, who in desperation in one scene, punches Joe up.  The script treats Hauk as a super villain, the type found in action hero movie, so one might not blame Durand for this horrid performance.  As far as other performances go, the accent seems to be placed in terms of great importance.  Hoechlin speaks with a strong mixed Jewish accent throughout the movie and in short spurts.   Australian built actor, Calum Von Moger who plays Arnold Schwarzenegger does a solid Schwarzenegger accent.

BIGGER has a lot of solid well built and toned bodies, both male and female, for one to gawk at.

It is ironical that American actor Hoechlin plays the Canadian title role while Canadian Kevin Durand (from Thunder Bay, Ontario) plays an American.  Durand overdoes his part proving himself to be the worst actor in the movie.  It is not helped that he plays a despicable, arrogant ashore in the film.

Gallo’s film turns quite different during the last third when Joe starts sporting a ridiculous (laughable) moustache.  Once the Schwarzenegger character appears, the film turns unintentionally funny.  But surprisingly, one gets used to the Schwarzenegger character who lifts the film out of the doldrums.

BIGGER can best described as a relatively entertaining but cheesy biography of the two brothers that put bodybuilding into sports.  But Joe’s predictions have come true.  There are now gyms all over every city and solid portion of the population (myself included) now have gym memberships.


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