Don Anderson is the Mickey's food restaurant chain's Marketing Director. He is the inventor of the "Big One" the hamburger best seller of Mickey's. An independent research reports the presence of cow's feces in the Big One. So Don is sent to Cody, Colorado, to verify if the slaughterhouse, main supplier of Mickey's, is efficient as it appears and the production process is regular. During his investigations he discovers the horrible truth behind a simple hamburger; the reality is not like we think it is. Don discovers what the mass production system involves, from the temp workers like Amber, to the exploitation of Mexican irregular immigrants. It is not only the meat that is crushed in the mincing machine, but all our society. Written by
Fast Food Nation was a great book, and as a piece of nonfiction, it is still one of the best pieces of long-form journalism of the decade. But Eric Schlosser and Richard Linklater's fictionalized take on the same topic isn't deserving of the original book's name.
First, the film tries far too hard to do far too much at once. Is it a cautionary tale about eating beef? Cattle farming? Illegal immigration? Paying workers too little? Crystal meth? Optimism? Any one of these (or even two) would have been enough fodder for a 2-hour film, but tackling them all in one movie is a blunder. A very Big One. No topic is explored enough, and in the process, they all suffer.
Second, the casting is hit-or-miss. Wilmer Valderrama is surprisingly good, as are Greg Kinnear and Ashely Johnson. As expected, Catalina Sandino Moreno runs away with the film, when she's on camera, which is not very much. But Avril Lavigne is laugh-out-loud terrible, as is the comically unscary Luis Guzman.
Third, the grossout factor. There are graphic and bloody scenes of animal death and dismemberment in the movie, but to what end? They're stuck in with no discussion or reflection on them, and because of this, they seem simply gratuitous, not moving or instructive. And really, that's the story of the entire film.
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