HANDS ON A HARD BODY doesn’t sound like a movie MOVIEGUIDE would like. However, this provocative title is not the title of a prurient, erotic sex comedy; rather, it is a documentary about 24 people who compete in a contest in Longview, Texas to win a Nissan Pickup truck, sponsored by the local radio station and the Nissan dealer. In a nod to down-home humor, the contest is called the “Hands on a Hard Body” contest. The contest involves keeping your hands on the body of the truck until everyone else has dropped out of the contest — which may take four exhausting days!
The documentary, produced on a low budget, has won many audience awards. Grainy and rough, and sometimes with jump cuts, HANDS ON A HARD BODY tells the fascinating story of 24 people who will stand for hours and hours and hours with their hands on this truck to try to win something that they need badly for their work or their school or their home. These are just folks with a need who are expending what they have — time, endurance and perseverance.
The young ones think that the old ones won’t hold up. One of the contestants won the contest in 1993 for keeping his hands on the truck for 83 hours. The record is 102 hours. Several of the contestants are Christians. One is a strong believer, and her whole church comes to pray for her. She plays Gospel songs and praises God throughout the movie.
It is hard to explain why this is such a riveting movie. These people are nice to each other, but experience human drama and conflict at its most basic and subtle level. The endurance makes the audience appreciate these people after awhile. What seems silly becomes captivating. What seems folksy and redneck becomes profound and interesting. They all have wonderful stories. When they can no longer endure, the audience weeps for them. When they achieve moments of victory, the audience laughs with them. Naturally, by the end only one person wins. It is a surprise for everyone.
There is much moral teaching in this movie, including terrific references to God and God’s grace. Surprising conflicts and outcomes. It is one of the human dramas about overcoming that is worth watching with your family. Maybe it will instill commitment, endurance, dedication, character, and dignity in the minds of your children. Beware, however, of the title. The hard body epithet has been used for other video and movie titles that were salacious and prurient. Make sure you look for HANDS ON A HARD BODY.
Moral worldview with a lot of Christian content; very little to no obscene language; and, some cigarette smoking.