Fast Food Nation
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Exclusive Interviews With Eric Schlosser, Richard Linklater, Ashley Johnson And Wilmer Valderrama; Behind The Scenes; Original Theatrical Trailer.
IF MORGAN Spurlock’s Super Size Me offered a grim taster of what a lifetime hooked on McDonald’s might do, then Richard Linklater’s Fast Food Nation provides a veritable feast of unsavoury information told from a “fictional” perspective.
Taking Eric Schlosser’s non-fiction book of the same name as its reference point, Linklater’s film offers a three-pronged attack on the fast food industry, from its exploitation of immigrant workers to the ruthless promotion of its not-so-good-for-you products.
It picks up as naive burger executive Don Henderson (Greg Kinnear) is sent to Colorado to investigate claims that there’s excrement in the meat of his chain’s biggest seller.
But it also follows the fortunes of young restaurant cashier Amber (Ashley Johnson) as she’s awoken to the horrors of her industry and of a group of Mexican immigrants (led by Catalina Sandino Moreno) as their status is exploited on the floor of the town’s meat-packing plant.
From gripping start to sickening finish Linklater’s movie refuses to pull any punches in getting its message across. But it does so in an intelligent and often amusing fashion that cleverly forces audiences to pay attention rather than force-feeding them propaganda-backed facts.
Kinnear’s burger executive grabs most of the really best moments, including an eye-opening chat with a pissed-off rancher (played by Kris Kristofferson) and a really frank conversation with a no-nonsense meat supplier (Bruce Willis clearly relishing the opportunity to sink his teeth into lines like “we’ve all gotta eat a little shit sometimes”).
But there’s equally note-worthy material in each of the other two stories, especially surrounding the plight of Moreno’s immigrant worker who gets to experience the horrors of the slaughter floor first-hand during the movie’s most sickening moment.
Whether the film ultimately does enough to give the burger industry cause for concern remains to be seen (especially seeing as the target audience probably won’t be rushing to see it). But it’s great to see Linklater back in more hard-hitting territory and taking on American capitalism and global corporations in his trademark offbeat style.
The result will certainly leave the more inquisitive minded hungry for more.
Running time: 113mins