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Review: Fast Food Nation (2006) R 116 min

June 23rd, 2008 by Maxim · No Comments · 5,554 Views

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3/5

Fast Food Nation (2006)This drama is directed by Richard Linklater (Before Sunset, A Scanner Darkly) on script he co-wrote with Eric Schlosser, who wrote the book, “Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal” and was an executive producer of There Will Be Blood. Starring Greg Kinnear, Luis Guzmán, Ethan Hawke, Bruce Willis and Kris Kristofferson.

The plot: VP of Marketing of Mickey’s fast food restaurants Don Anderson (Greg Kinnear) goes on the road to verify independent report that Mickey’s meat contains an elevated amount of cow feces. Don had invented “The Big One” – chain’s best selling burger. As he follows the production chain, it’s revealed to him that the fast food industry’s practices are affecting our entire society: from the abuse and exploitation of illegal Mexican workers to work injuries at production lines of meat-processing factories, the conditions in which the animals have to live before they are slaughtered, how “flavors” are chemically engineered and more.

The good: A captivating expose, pretty dramatic. Great cast, mixing famous actors with no-name actors. Each character has time to develop and tell his story. There are several love stories and other complex relationships. The real drama happens there. Animals are kept in horrible conditions, but worst of all was the conditions in which workers at the slaughterhouse were working. One of the workers lost his legs at work, but the company cheated his family out of compensation siting “pre-existing conditions and drug use at the work place”. The pathetic attempt by some kids working at the burger joint to organize into union, or write letters to the governor was funny and sad at the same time. Catalina Sandino Moreno’s performance was very strong.

The bad: Perhaps too many characters to follow, and alternating between parallel stories is a little distracting. It’s pretty graphic, which explains the “R” rating. The movie under-delivers – after watching it it feels that the story has not been told fully or cut off in the middle. Movie stars have no lasting impression and appear on the screen only for brief moments.

The summary: This is a drama that’s a lot like “Thank You For Smoking“, but without jokes and humor. It exposes the truth behind simple hamburger, and it’s pretty scary. Particularly the cynicism with which Bruce Willis’s character was explaining why it’s so important to have Mexican’s exploited for their own good. It also shows ignorance and complacency of the society with the practices of the fast food industry – all for a chance to get that burger for 10 cents less. Definitely worth watching, but not on full stomach.

Memorable quotes:

Rudy Martin: “It’s not about good people or bad people – it’s about machine that taken over this country.”

- …Eco-activists are considered a bigger threat to our national security then right wing Timothy McVeigh types.
- Well, right now I think there’s nothing more patriotic then violating Patriot Act.

Harry Rydell: It is a sad fact of life, Don, but the truth is we all have to eat a little shit from time to time.

DVD features:

  • Audio commentary by Director/Screenwriter Richard Linklater and Author/Screenwriter Eric Schlosser
  • Manufacturing Fast Food Nation
  • Photo Gallery
  • The Meatrix – a short animated film spoofing The Matrix and exposing more facts about meat/food industry and offering to boycott the non-sustainably grown farm products.
  • The Meatrix II – more of the above animation
  • The Meatrix II 1/2 – even more!
  • The Backwards Hamburger

The cast: Don Anderson - Greg Kinnear | Raul – Wilmer Valderrama | Sylvia - Catalina Sandino Moreno | Coco – Ana Claudia Talancón | Esteban - Juan Carlos Serrán | Jack – Frank Ertl | Phil – Michael D. Conway | Jay Anderson – Ellar Salmon | Stevie Anderson – Dakota Edwards | Debi Anderson – Dana Wheeler-Nicholson | Benny – Luis Guzmán | Amber – Ashley Johnson | Harry Rydel – Bruce Willis

The crew: Director - Richard Linklater | Writers – Eric Schlosser, Richard Linklater | Producers – Eric Schlosser, Jeff Skoll, Ricky Strauss, David M. Thompson, Peter Watson, Chris Salvaterra, Edward Saxon | Original Musical Score – Friends of Dean Martinez | Cinematography – Lee Daniel

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Rated 3/5 on Jun 23 2008
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Tags: DVD · Drama · Movies · USA

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