Pumping Iron II: The Women | Chicago Reader

Pumping Iron II: The Women

George Butler's sequel to his 1977 Pumping Iron resorts to so many fictional techniques that the word “documentary” barely seems to apply. The film follows four entrants in a Las Vegas women's body-building championship as they go through their training and learn their routines; each one is characterized in such broad, symbolic terms—there's the articulate black New Jerseyite, the shy Texan, the overconfident Los Angeleno, and the hulking Australian—that they seem like pure products of a screenwriter's imagination. And Butler packs so many dramatic conflicts into the competition—will small-town simplicity win out over big-city slickness? will the conventionally “feminine” look win out over the heavily muscled figures of the new generation of body builders?—that Rocky seems scrawny by comparison. Not at all a bad time, but a little queasy all the same.

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