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Film Reviews Review: Bigger doesn’t do the heavy-lifting required for this ‘grandfathers of fitness’ biopic

Tyler Hoechlin as bodybuilder Joe Weider.

Bee Holder Productions

  • Bigger
  • Directed by: George Gallo
  • Written by: George Gallo, Andy Weiss, Brad Furman and Ellen Furman
  • Starring: Julianne Hough, Tyler Hoechlin and Robert Forster
  • Classification: PG; 107 minutes

rating

Not to take the extraordinarily easy route, but when you call your film Bigger, you’re begging for a review headline that reads, “But Not Better.” While it’s too early, as I write this, to determine which headline will accompany this particular critique, the obvious joke holds: George Gallo’s drama about Montreal’s Joe and Ben Weider, the “grandfathers of fitness,” wants to be a more muscular take on the biopic than its filmmaker is equipped to handle. A rags-to-riches tale that is inspirational in the most sentimental and predictable of fashions, Bigger squanders most of the potential that comes with dissecting such an underexplored world as the nascent body-building industry. At least he nails the casting, with the intimidatingly fit Tyler Hoechlin and Aneurin Barnard as the Weider brothers, the charismatic Julianne Hough as Joe’s wife, and an impressive Calum Von Moger as Arnold Schwarzenegger, who shows up briefly. Also helping keep things lively are the many tiers of character actors populating the fringes, from Robert Forster (!) to DJ Qualls (!!) to Tom Arnold (!!?). Strength in numbers, I suppose. But when Gallo needs his script – co-written alongside three others – to do some heavy lifting, the whole exercise falls as flat as this review’s many puns.

Bigger opens Oct. 12 in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal

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