Based on true events, Bigger follows Tyler Hoechlin’s Joe Weider as he and his brother (Aneurin Barnard’s Ben) work to create a fitness empire from virtually nothing – with Joe’s tireless efforts taking a toll on his relationships with his first and second wives (Victoria Justice’s Kathy and Julianne Hough’s Betty, respectively). Filmmaker George Gallo, working from a script written with Andy Weiss, Brad Furman, and Ellen Furman, delivers an entertaining yet entirely conventional drama that hits many of the touchstones associated with the biopic genre (eg the film unfolds in flashback as an older Joe, played by Robert Forster, thinks back on his life), with the movie, then, benefiting quite substantially from the inherently intriguing nature of the story and its raft of stirring performances. (Hoechlin does a solid job of stepping into the shoes of a figure clearly on the autism spectrum, while the eclectic supporting cast, which includes Steve Guttenberg, DJ Qualls, and Tom Arnold, effectively fills out the movie’s many periphery parts.) The lack of subtlety within the screenplay – the picture does, after all, boast a mustache-twirling villain in the form of Kevin Durand’s Bill Hauk – does become somewhat problematic as Bigger unfolds (and also ensures that the midsection suffers from a palpable unevenness), although there’s little doubt that the film recovers quite thoroughly with a third act detailing Joe’s association with Arnold Schwarzenegger (Calum Von Moger, doing an uncanny impersonation). The end result is a decent true-life tale that rarely goes above and beyond the format to create something memorable, and yet it’s ultimately difficult not to embrace the rags-to-riches bent of the central character’s trajectory of success.
**1/2 out of ****