Hands on a Hardbody

Hands on a Hardbody

First of all, you must understand that despite title, the film is not pornographic in anyway.

This is a documentary film that tells a story of a yearly highly unusual event that takes place in a small southern town in the United States. The local auto distributor holds a contest, in which contestants put their hands on a lovely pickup truck. The person who remains standing keeping his hands on the truck the longest – in other words does not drop out, will win the truck as a prize. We do not really see how the contestants are originally chosen, but it is no doubt a very popular local event with many townspeople coming to watch.

There are periodic breaks every several hours where the contestants can go to the bathroom. Also, during the breaks, the contestants might sit in a chair, perhaps surrounded by their team (probably some family members) and would be given some food and drink and often receive leg or back massages from their supporters. We got the sense of a prolonged time of the event as we periodically are shown a digital readout of the time passed already. The contest concludes when there is only person left standing with his or her hands on the truck and he or she is declared the winner. I believe the total time was about 96 hours, which would be about four days. Obviously, the contest continued day and night.

In true documentary style, the filmmakers try to give us some of the background of the contestants, especially when the numbers whittled down to three of four remaining contestants. This is the true opportunity for the filmmakers to draw out the viewer and to identify with the contestants and root for their favorites. That did not really seem to work for us. In fact, we felt that the insight into the lives and the meaning of the contest and the prize were superficially depicted.

While the subjects and the scenes are unique and fascinating, we felt that the filming and the presentation of the film left much to be desired. The story behind each contestant, especially the finalist, should have been presented in more depth, so we could better know the contestants and what possibly winning meant to each one and their family.

The visual effects of people surrounding the truck would have been enhanced if an aerial view or at least a down shot from a high ladder were used. We also was curious how the bathroom break was handled especially at the beginning when there were large numbers of contestants.

There was concern about possible drug use that might facilitate the contestants to stay awake and stay in position, perhaps if they were using stimulants. When there were just three contestants remaining, each one would be taken away for a drug test; however, it would seem that at this point after they return from the drug test, that might be the greatest reason to have used the stimulant (if one were inclined to cheat in this pattern), so drug the testing should have been done at the conclusion of the contest.

Overall, while the story is quite unique and there is some insight into the small southern town and the people there, we felt it lacked depth and sophistication, especially in telling the back story of the contestants, which could have been done in a more creative manner.

Category: 3 Stars, Documentary | Tags: Comment »

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