2006
Rated: R for graphic language, graphic violence, animal cruelty, and strong sexual content.
Genre: Drama
Directed By: Richard Linklater
Running Time: 1:46
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 12/18/06
Special Features:
Not Announced
FAST FOOD NATION

 


Harry: We all have to eat a little shit from time to time.

Richard Linklater is brilliant, the man can direct a film, and he knows how to cast the proper actors for his projects. That’s a fact, Jack. Any arguments against that can be directed to my ass. Disagree? Well, go watch “Flava of Love” you commie bastard. Fast food. You love it, you eat it endlessly. It’s mediocre enough to warrant repeated consumption, and filled with enough ingredients to obtain addiction from its customers. But not many people know the inner workings of the industry.

Many people subscribe to the “I don’t want to meet the cow before I have the steak” philosophy, but it’s always great to understand your food. Or in the case of fast food, its distant relative. Based on the best selling nonfiction book, “Fast Food Nation” is a semi-documentary all-star drama set along the fast food industry unraveling its devious practices. From medical labs combining chemicals to provide a certain “natural” taste, to inner-office politics, Linklater delves into all the territory the nonfiction book did, except with a much more sharp jab a la the ensemble, multi-plot concept.

 

The ultimate question the viewer will ask in this provocative semi-drama is, does the fast food industry deserve to be taken to task on the same level as the Tobacco industry? Both products are addictive, unhealthy, damaging to the body, and have caused a worldwide epidemic. Should they be held to the same standards? Regardless, “Fast Food Nation” will not inspire audiences to seek out a McDonald’s burger any time soon. Linklater’s film helps to explore that the fast food industry is not only one of the biggest contributors to poor health in the country, but that the food we get at any of the places are anything but food. Beyond that we’re given an all star cast of truly talented actors from Greg Kinnear, Esai Morales, the lovely Catalina Sandino Moreno, Bruce Willis, to Patricia Arquette.

And let’s not forget Ethan Hawke, but what would a Linklater film be without one of his regulars? The performances are utterly top notch all around, especially from Kinnear who is a crafty marketing guru for his company “Mickey’s” a competing fast food chain. As the film progresses, Linklater draw the characterization into the background, and the practices of the industry into the foreground revealing the method for providing us the meat, and the sheer abuse of immigrants hired to work at the plants. Meeting the cow before having the burger will surely put a wrench in your spokes the next time you're at a MacDonald's.

Of course if you're looking for a plot that connects everyone beyond the microcosm of the fast food industry, you'd best look elsewhere. While Linklater does indeed provide a plot, it's somewhat vague beneath the layers of observance of the fast food preparations and behind the scenes scenarios. The script doesn't do much in the way of characterization and sub-plot in spite of the usual engrossing dialogue discussing the industry, so anyone seeking a film in the vein of "Traffic" set to the world of fast food will be disappointed. "Fast Food Nation" provides an unconventional ensemble picture with sub-plots and back stories that are served as backdrops and not as the primary drive for the film, so it will be vexing to see most of the film revolving around the industry and its inner workings.

Linklater’s “Fast Food Nation” is a blunt and engrossing ensemble picture on the fast food industry and all of its underhanded misdeeds. It may not have a plot to speak of, but it’s provoking, honest, and utterly disturbing.

 

 

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