Wednesday, August 30, 2006

MovieWatch: "Fast Food Nation"

"Fast Food Nation"
Director: Richard Linklater
Fien Print Rating (Out of 100): 71
In a Nutshell: For at least its first hour, Richard Linklater's semi-adaptation of Eric Schlosser's muckraking expose about the fast food industry is about as strong as one could possibly hope, given that it's a movie based on a book that's based on statistics and research. With only the barest of plots involving a burger company exec (Greg Kinnear), several illegal immigrants (including Wilmer Valderamma, Catalina Sandino Moreno) at a meat packing company and several high schoolers working McJobs (led by Ashley Johnson), Linklater weaves a story of corporate complicity that goes into more depth and detail on issues of class and race in contemporary America than nearly any studio film I can think of. There isn't much plot, but people keep encountering familiar actors (Bruce Willis, Kris Kristofferson and Ethan Hawke), who deliver long and politicized monologues. It's clunky, but I was never bored and I appreciated Linklater's commitment to intelligence as a corrective to the glibness of Jason Reitman's over-praised "Thank You For Smoking." It's rare that you can pin-point so perfectly where a movie goes off the rails, but in the case of "Fast Food Nation," it's the moment that Avril Lavigne pops up as a chirpy college activist. She jeopardizes any claim to authenticity the movie may have made and announces an over-plotted attempt to tie everything up by the end. She's so distracting (her character as much as her pseudo-punky Canadian presence) that some viewers may tune out and miss the Killing Floor sequence that so clearly is mean as the Money Shot for "Fast Food Nation." I still appreciated the movie for its politics and its aspirations and also for a number of the performances, particularly those given by Kinnear, Johnson, Willis, Bobby Cannavale and the entirely Fez-Free Valderamma (who is good entirely by virtue of not being an annoying distraction).


  1. Anonymous12:18 PM

    Glad to see someone else thought "Thank You For Smoking" was overrated. Aaron Eckhardt is a heck of an actor, but the jokes were so...obvious.

  2. It is, indeed, one of Aaron Eckhart's best performances, but it was just a movie that was much too proud of itself for having said nothing more profound than "People on both sides of many political debates are hypocrites." Yawn. "Fast Food Nation" actually takes the time to make most of its characters seem at least semi-rational. Both Kristofferson and Willis play characters who give very different sides of conservative ideology (Kristofferson more Libertarian, Willis more Straight Up Republican) and they both come across as sane and worthy of intellectual engagement. For a piece of agitprop, it's intestingly balanced...


  3. Cannot wait for this one!

  4. It's a good flick. Does it have a release date yet in England? This is probably yet another movie that will play better in Europe where they already think everything American is boorish...

  5. We do already think that :) But this film looks incredible, and yeah, Thank You For Smoking WAS a little overrated. I see that now.

  6. Anonymous2:10 AM

    just watched Fast Food Nation, it's an impactful flick to say the least... earlier today i passed up a sausage mcmuffin because of it.