Before I get started, I want to address that I LOVE bodybuilding. I enjoy watching movies as well, hence my frequent visits in this site, but I first nurtured a strong passion for muscle building, clean dieting, and physical achievement. Currently embarking toward my Bachelors Degree in Athletic Training, I hold a high standard of how we treat our bodies as well as the unbelievable feats of strength of that involved. Sure we may be egocentric and a little too masculine, there's a lot of virtues about ideals tucked away within bodybuilding that would benefit all of life.
But even then, even I wasn't shocked by how godawful BIGGER turned out to be. A cheap and manipulating Lifetime special, it's a movie that way too often glorifies the life of one Joe Weider (The father of Bodybuilding) while unironically presenting the self-centered, borderline toxic elements of said life with an earnest smile. It's not even appropriate to call this a mandate by committee; if you tell me a whole bunch of meatheads from IFBB came together and made a film school project, this would've fit the bill.
For those who don't know, Joe Weider is what many would consider the Father of Bodybuilding, commencing his rise to fame by pioneering the Muscle&Fitness magazine and the Mr. Olympia competition. Growing up Jewish and poor during the dreadful years before World War 2, he envisioned that all people of different stripes have a right to achieve physical achievement the likes of the elite strongman of which he aspires from.
And from there is literally rinse and repeat; he gets bullied along with his brother Ben Weider, they discovered something revolutionary, a string of violins cue in at the inspirational moments, Joe meets a girl, they get a divorce due to complications with his work, he meets an archnemesis - a cartoonishly evil rival magazine publisher played by one of the bad guys from LOST - and he soon reaches entrepreneur status. There's facts about Muscle&Fitness, fit chick models, where he got the name Mr. Olympia, and the famous encounter with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Yes they're all important things that happened, but the film does absolutely nothing exceptional about it. Right down to a lazy framing device and the annoying Polish inflections by the otherwise capable Tyler Hoechlin, there's too many bad or uninspired filmmaking choices here to keep you invested. Even the admittedly timely philosophy within Weiders mission - about equality and female empowerment - just gets simplified by having the movie frame an opposing magazine publisher as a literal Nazi cartoon villain for the mighty Weider to defeat. I've seen Kevin Durand play one-note baddies before, but this somehow became a new low for the once-promising TV actor.
What's even more depressing yet totally expected is the refusal to delve deep into Weiders darker side. There's a hint within Victoria Justice's throwaway wife role that suggests that Weider might actually be a psychotic, workaholic weirdo who obsesses about how people look without considering the "normal" ways of living. As a man who personally had complications like this before, It would've looked intriguing to see this manifest properly but no. The movie is too much on his side to even think about challenging him, so it frames anybody with any questions about bodybuilding as equal to the Nazis and the bullies who dare take away his glory. It's just vaguely toxic and just misguided to watch onscreen.
But not about as misguided as the shockingly dumb decision to cast Callum Von Moger as Golden Age Schwarzenegger. The dude looks nothing like him no matter what fitness gurus tell me, and the audacity to see this lunk share clunky dialogue with dangly weirdo Weider makes me cringe. It's the type of obvious casting stunt that summarizes this uninspired, obviously calculated agenda of which this movie metastasizes from. Unless if you're biased about bodybuilding itself and thus don't have such a low tolerance for bargain-basement pablum, I would say that this man deserved a better movie.