Just in time for the holiday season — if your name happens to be Scrooge or Grinch — is the downer documentary “The Armstrong Lie.”
A feel-good sports movie it's not.
Unless, that is, you get perverse pleasure in watching a former celebrated superstar cycling champion deliver his own comeuppance to Oprah Winfrey and a television audience of millions, on the heels of former teammates and longtime critics pulling back the curtain to reveal a cheating control freak and national
and international anti-doping organizations launching myth-busting investigations.
Even the most casual sports fan by now knows the nuts and bolts, sprockets and gears, of Lance Armstrong's cycling career: the testicular cancer that had spread to the young, unheralded athlete's brain in the mid-1990s, his against-the-odds recovery, his phenomenal seven consecutive victories (1999-2005) in the ultra-grueling Tour de France, his aggressive denials of doping through the years, his raising millions of dollars for cancer research, the high-end endorsements, marriage to a rock star, a “Saturday Night” Live gig and, finally, his well-publicized confession to having used performance-enhancing drugs despite testing negative hundreds of times.
And while the film tells a compelling story in a strong, straightforward fashion, with some vividly colorful shots of world-class cyclists racing in stunning locales (including footage of Tour of California competition in Sonoma County) past cheering fans, and there's a nod to a few dogged sports writers (Daniel Coyle, David Walsh, Paul Kimmage) whose journalistic instincts told them from the get-go that Armstrong's story was too good to be true, “The Armstrong Lie” is ultimately a bit shopworn. Recycled.