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I will say that Richard Linklater's movie version of Eric Schlosser's
expository "Fast Food Nation" could have been better. It shows these
various stories, but doesn't do the best job tying them together,
thereby falling a little flat. But in terms of showing how the
meatpacking industry treats its immigrant workers, they couldn't have
done a better, uglier job. It's a stark reminder of the real meaning of
eating chain restaurant food.
Greg Kinnear plays Don Anderson, a well-off executive of the fictional restaurant chain Mickey's. When he takes a trip to their processing factory in Colorado, he gets a sanitized tour of the place, only to learn the unpleasant, fecal truth from other sources. The contrasted story portrays some Mexican immigrants (among them Wilmer Valderrama, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Ana Claudia Talancon) move to the US, only to get dangerous jobs in the factory, and the women have to submit to rape by the supervisor. And they leave nothing to the imagination when showing the inhumanity of the place. Not to mention how they treat the cows and pollute the surrounding environment.
The discussion amongst the students about how the factory pollutes the environment and buys out the politicians is a reminder of something else: the cronyism that has taken over our government during the past few years. We can hope - a word that one of the students doesn't like at all - that the recent election might change things at least some, that whole scene is plenty of reason for cynicism, showing how corporations have been able to get away with anything.
Anyway, although they don't tie the plots together as well as they could have, this is still a movie that I recommend to everyone - although you should read the book first. You'll never want to eat fast food again after watching this. Also starring Patricia Arquette, Luis Guzman, Ethan Hawke, Kris Kristofferson, Avril Lavigne, and Bruce Willis. Among other things, it's good to see that Avril Lavigne has been getting involved in political things and isn't just another Britney Spears.
Richard Linklater examines the cogs in the giant machine called the fast food industry. The film is much like its much more successful competitor, Babel, in that if follows several story threads. Much like Babel, it doesn't quite make any real points by the end. Unlike Babel, I don't think Linklater especially wanted to make anything like Iñarritu's grandiose statements, except a very broad one about how the industry does some sort of harm to everyone involved, from CEO to customer. I thought Babel was successful in its view of the everyday lives of its characters, but Fast Food Nation is even more successful in that way. It doesn't live on big moments. For the most part, Linklater's talent shines in the individual vignettes. His characters feel like they had lives before the film began, and like they'll have lives afterward. We learn surprisingly little about most of them, but the few moments we spend with them are enough to get a good sense of the characters. I thought the most successful storyline centered around actress Ashley Johnson, a bright teenager who works in one of the fast food chain's restaurants in Cody, Colorado (her not-so-bright co-workers, including actor Paul Dano, work in the back). The other major threads follow Greg Kinnear as an exec who has come to inspect the possibly poorly run mega-factory where the meat patties are produced, and a group of illegal immigrants (including Oscar nominee Catalina Sandino Moreno and surprisingly good TV comedian Wilmer Valderrama) who work at the mega-factory in dangerous conditions. The film certainly has its faults (the film ends on the most groan-inducing note since the final scene of John Sayles' last film), but most every scene is so beautifully observed that I'm more than willing to overlook its faults. 2006 may not have been a great year for Richard Linklater financially, but he was firing on all of his artistic cylinders with both this and the even better A Scanner Darkly. One of the most underrated films of last year.
I think everyone in America should see this film, but probably few will. I hadn't read the book before I saw the film, but I thought it was both powerful and important. I think Richard Linklater can do no wrong, and this film is no exception. I didn't think the movie was dry at all, as some have reviewed it. It was compelling throughout. The acting and story were good with minor exceptions, the characters were sympathetic, the subject matter was certainly relatable. This film focuses on everything that's wrong with America, and it's not pretty. It was certainly not an easy movie to watch at times, but I am very grateful that Linklater is still making thought-provoking films.
The book was good and this movie had the opportunity to be insightful, but instead the characters are weak, the plot line non-existent, and the dialog is awful--it makes even someone awesome like Bruce Willis seem flaccid. The whole movie should have been of the kill floor and of the investigation of the feces in the meat--too many plot lines that go nowhere. The trailer was good and shot the full load right there. Nothing more to see. Go see "Thank you for smoking" if you want to see something like this that isn't awful. I have to fill in more to submit this comment so I shall: THIS MOVIE IS SO BAD MY MIND EXPLODED. I WANTED TO STOP WATCHING BUT I COULD NOT BELIEVE HOW BAD IT WAS AND PERSEVERED TO MY GREAT REGRET.
I just happen to stumble into this movie today. I had never read the book although I had herd a brief summery once. Besides being a great product placement ad for New Belgium Brewing, some of the best beers in the world in my opinion, I thought it was a good movie over all. I was surprised to see all the big name actor that were in this movie. I live on the Colorado Front Range, the place where the book is based off of and the movie alludes to. It is a nice place and I think the movie portrays the area quite accurately, though they tend to focus more on the bad then good. I think that this movie brings to light some issues that are often passed over as too controversial and it is quite graphic but I think that it helps drive home the points of the movies. I my opinion go see the movie, but don't take anyone that can't stand to see graphic scenes and adult content.
Fast Food Nation seemingly forgets to take us back to its main story about the corporate side of the burger industry. After the main character leaves Colorado to go back to California, they should have continued with his story. How did he report his findings to his boss? How did he and his wife respond to his trip? Does he still eat the "Big One"? Instead, after he leaves Colorado, the movie lazily stays on the story of the corruption at the meat-packing plant, even though this point - the meat packing industry is horrible - had already been drilled into us, early on. And the other side story, about the rebellious teenage girl, during her quitting her job scene, the other male employee says something to the effect of, the fast food industry is not morally "wrong", just low-paying. This seemed to contradict major points of the movie.
While perhaps not a cinematic masterpiece, Richard Linklater's Fast Food Nation is one of the most brutal anti-capitalist films I've ever seen. It's an uncompromising take-down of the American fast food industry, following multiple narrative threads from the top to the bottom of a fictional (but all too real) restaurant chain. It exposes the exploitation of migrant and teenage labor, the chemical manipulation of ingredients, the cover-up of contaminated products, as well as unsafe working conditions, sexual assault in the workplace, and perhaps most powerfully, the torture of animals in slaughterhouses. This is a film that forces us to examine the way corporations allow nothing to stand in the way of the profits made on the backs of exploited labor and the rape of the environment.
A look at the meat-industry from different points of views. We follow
illegal immigrants who gets job at the meat-factory. We follow a PR-guy
(greg) working for the fast-food chain selling the meat from the
factory. We follow a family which have people working in the fast food
chain. Also get a look into a group who's trying to expose the
machinations of the meat-industry, and their desperation in trying to
change the situation. The main word here is; chain. It's all connected.
From the consumption of the happy family-buyers(MAIN CAUSE) to the
illegal workforce to the disgusting feeding-pens spewing out toxic
waste into our environment, one behavior creates the next(rain-forests
for meat-production anyone?). And i won't forget the alien
killing-floors, where these soon to be toxic, artery-choking,
fattening, disease ridden,insulin-creating,
adrenaline-antibiotic-manure-filled and devoid of all nourishment;
future kids- meals are slaugthered...like they are cars being created
on a production-line.
"Right now i can't think of anything more patriotic the violating the patriot act."
But all that is needed is stop consuming(goes for any industry). But people are to lazy and ignorant for that("Idiocracy" anyone?).
A little slow in it's places but overall a good movie with good acting.
"Fast Food Nation" is a movie that's mainly saved by Richard Linklater's immense talent for writing dialogue, because for the most part he doesn't really bring anything new here. It's not bad, but it's just the same as usual: characters sit around making nothing of their lives, then gradually they get caught up in each other's story arcs somehow. I've seen him doing it before, and I've seen him doing it better. The main reason why "Fast Food Nation" isn't really his best is because some characters just aren't very interesting. To me the most compelling character is probably the oh-so-clever marketing executive who slowly starts to grow a conscience, I reckon those segments are by far the best. The rest is surprisingly pedestrian material that doesn't even hand us anything resembling closure. I know Linklater has made stories that go nowhere into an art form, but here it doesn't really work out because you just don't care enough to fill in the blanks yourself. Bringing in Avril Lavigne for a bit part also sorta reeks of stunt casting, because she sure as hell wasn't hired for her acting abilities. Still, you will get some brilliant lines out of this movie. It's not quite "Dazed and Confused", but it definitely has its moments.
Richard Linklater, just like David Cronenberg ( Existenze, Videodrome ) is not afraid at all of trying something new and different, and he seems to do it with surprisingly great results. In Fast Food Nation, the cover is fully blown on the issues with, well, fast food. The movie has a perfect blend of dark humor, as well as an emotional element that is missing from other films that have tried to explore this genre. It is funny, witty, smart, and even gets pretty graphic towards the end. Illegal activity is involved. The process that they have to go through to get that burger in your belly, well, let's just say it's not a pretty sight or thought. It is a very disturbing look into the fast food nation that America lives in today, and it may cause you to think twice before you order that next sandwich. In my opinion, all the issues with the fast food industry are touched in this amazingly crafted film: the illegals that accept money under the table to perform a job that is robbed from an average American just to save a pretty penny, as well as how the food is prepared. It explores the attitudes of the employees, it boldly goes into the jaw dropping "secret ingredient" of the hamburgers that are prepared for us to eat, and it even involves a safety incident that could have been prevented from getting an employee seriously injured. Fast Food Nation is not designed to be a comedy, although the humor is unquestionably there. It is a very serious film, it should be handled to the viewer as a serious matter, or you may not 'get it'. ( Spoiler follows, quit reading if you do not want it revealed ) For very sensitive viewers, I would not recommend the last fifteen minutes of the film, as it does include possibly REAL footage of animals being slaughtered for the satisfaction of our lunch at work. Fast Food Nation is a great movie for those who dare to know the truth.
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