At heart, André Roussimoff was a quiet, well-meaning man who started growing at an abnormal rate in his teens and had dreams almost as big as his body.
That never-ending battle between preferring a more quiet life away from the spotlight and knowing he could never have one helps pin down HBO's examination of André's life and career. There's a sense that André was at odds with himself too. Dreaming big from a young age, the Frenchman wanted to "be somebody", but he could never get to grips with constantly being in the public eye.
Talking heads as varied as Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, Tim White and Jerry Lawler (along with a bunch of wrestling historians/journalists fascinated with The Giant) all do a great job exploring André's psyche. There's more focus on that personal touch than on André's in-ring exploits, and that makes the film more than a rudimentary pro wrestling documentary.
At the same time though, not everything is rosy. Just like the mountainous subject it studies, the underlying tale of tragedy HBO try to present has flaws...
2. One Segment Is At Odds With The Narrative
HBO's assessment of André boiled down to painting the man as a friendly giant who enjoyed making people happy across the globe. A consistent pattern of André's own unhappiness ran through the doc too, and it's clear he struggled personally whilst keeping a brave face so others could enjoy his work.
That's all well and good, but it just makes a short segment during which The Giant is depicted as a mean bully feel out of place.
Stories from Hulk Hogan about André despising the baby oil Randy Savage would lather his body in are funny, and the same goes for light-hearted banter about the big man putting those who wouldn't play ball with company plans in their place.
As fun as they are, it's then odd to hear Hogan (and others, like Gene Okerlund and McMahon) claim André took great delight in roughing up John Studd. During this segment, André comes across less like a ring general and more like a petty bully who was insecure about Studd's own physical size and wanted to re-assert his own dominance as the WWF's one true giant.
Freelance journalist, podcasting loony, lifelong wrestling fan and musician (drums are people too), who has a vague resemblance to a loudmouth announcer in Defiant Wrestling. Also a huge, HUGE fan of Halloween and Lucky Charms. Huge.