RX Muscle review of the movie. Written by, Written by John Koenig
Film maker Stuart MacDonald asked himself the question thousands have wondered about: Just what would it take to change my body into that of the guy in the fitness advertisements? But MacDonald took it a step further, seeking out IFBB pro bodybuilder Jeff Willett, who is the guy in the ads and owns a gym. At 42 years old, with a 44-inch waist and a soft physique nearly 30% bodyfat, MacDonald must have appeared a daunting project. Nonetheless, Willett decided he'd teach Stuart how to train, set up meal plans for him, and otherwise guide him through the entire process. "I Want To Look Like That Guy" is an entertaining documentary of the roller coaster ride that ensued. MacDonald had no idea what he was getting into.
I appreciate that Willett's 18-week Phase One was about learning to workout, with minimal involvement in the nutritional end. This comes closest to what the average man-in-the-street thinks those ads are telling them: join a gym, or better yet, buy this piece of exercise equipment (can we all say Bowflex?), follow a simple workout program a few days a week, and bingo, soon you'll be shredded and muscular.
After one week, MacDonald was asking the camera why his body hadn't visibly changed. This sounds ridiculous to anyone in the industry, but remember, most people don't know any better! That's why the ads are successful. He began the experiment at 27% bodyfat, and a dozen weeks of workouts later was only down to 25%. Of course, a massive cookie binge that 12th week slowed progress down. Sounds bad, but what could be more typical of the average person?
Phase 2 adds the dieting component. Now things get interesting, and MacDonald begins to learn for the first time how involved what he's attempting to do is. Willett lays it all out for him, every meal of each day. As the meal plans change, they are discussed between the two of them, and the actual plan is displayed on the screen. I applaud Willett for providing this much detail.
"It's scary how hard it is to get lean enough for photo sessions. You have no idea, you may look great, but you'll have no life, no energy," said MacDonald into the camera, alone one evening in his home. He was hungry, tired of being tired, and feeling sorry for himself.
At another point, further into the project, co-producer Willett tell Stuart, "You have to feel real bad to look real good! I don't care if you fall down, I don't care if you feel faint... stick to the nutrition!" Willett was tremendous, at times boosting MacDonald's spirits, at other points strongly shaking him up and making it clear he had to stay in the game and be disciplined or nothing was going to happen. "I'm tired of hearing people make excuses!" he tells MacDonald later in the film when he's hearing excuses.
In a post on Rxmuscle, Willett pointed out "One of the primary points is to illustrate that for the ‘average' person with a job, family and normal life obligations, it is not functional or realistic to achieve and maintain single-digit bodyfat percentages. However, that is what would be required if you want to look like the guys in the ads. It takes intense personal sacrifice with your diet and lifestyle."
Stuart MacDonald struggles with the aspects of this project all of us deal with. It takes months and months to change the body this much (drug-free, keep in mind). Workouts come and go; one or two cardio sessions per day take priority in his life. Friends and family find themselves on the sidelines; he gets lonely. He's always hungry!
Stu bravely lives his life before the cameras; we see him shave his body, he poses for photos every week; he trains, he learns to pose. His doubts and failures play out before us, and didn't end up on the editing-room floor. Slowly, then more quickly as he dials in the nutrition and remains consistent, MacDonald's body begins to become that of a bodybuilder, right in front of the camera. It's fascinating to watch and listen to him confide in the camera, and to be the fly on the wall for countless meetings with Jeff Willett, who faithfully, consistently provides moral support, motivation, and all his workout and dietary programs.
By the time MacDonald has morphed into an under-6% bodyfat bodybuilder and is preparing to compete in an NPC contest, the viewer cannot help but be rooting for him to make it.
"I Want to Look Like That Guy" shows that a regular guy can look like the guy in the ad, but it takes a smart, disciplined plan outside the understanding of most "regular guys." Stuart MacDonald made dramatic changes to his physique, and they took many months. This movie clearly illustrates how difficult it is to get into true bodybuilding condition, and exposes the ads selling an image clearly unrealistic for most people to achieve.
"I Want To Look Like That Guy" is entertaining, truthful, and passionate. It's not about training, nor the world of bodybuilding; it's about the very real journey Stuart MacDonald took as he transformed himself.