Hands on a Hardbody

Reviewed By Thom
Posted 03/16/99 08:35:16

"'If you want something bad enough, keep your hands on it.'"
4 stars (Worth A Look)

Regular folks bond with their competitors in a contest and learn about desire and defeat.

Hands on a Hard Body is a documentary about a contest in a small town in Texas. The contest begins with all the contestants standing around a new hard body truck with a hand on it. The winner of the truck is the last person with his or her hand on the truck. But the real winner, as the resident philosopher of the contest says, is "the one who loses their mind last". And he's right.

This movie is about real people who want something so bad they are willing to go as far as it takes to get it. There is something to be learned about perserverance in the face of adversity from this film and the way that meaning changes from prize to principle. For some of the contestants, winning the truck is the goal, but when you are awake for 3 days, totally committed to winning, then winning becomes the goal, not the prize.

The film has the potential to poke fun at the naivete of small town folk, but the director chose wisely to preserve the dignity of the people involved and preserve this film as a document about our common humanity.

I watched this film with a test audience that laughed at some of the idea, words, and beliefs and even the contest itself as if we sophisticated and educated, somewhat affluent folks were superior to these misguided souls willing to sacrifice for a free truck.

But that truck represents everything anyone has ever suffered to obtain. Such as a well paying job in an expensive metropolitan area with art film houses that show documentaries that serve to enlighten the public which comprised most of the audience with who I watched the film as well as entertain rather than just cater to the lowest common schlock hollywood denominator.

This film is full of human integrity. It is only 1.5 hours long, but at the end of it, you feel you have lived through the entire three day ordeal of pain, stress, desire and victory and grasped what the contest means to everyone involved. One can't help but connect with the subjects and get swept up in their own personal journey through this contest.

It's also a fascinating study in sleep deprivation.

Highly recommended if you are a "human condition" film person. I love everyday people.

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