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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Anyone past high school age (wait, do they still make them read "books"
in high school now? Probably not) remembers Upton Sinclair's "The
Jungle" a novel about families of immigrants working in the horrific
conditions of slaughterhouses and other factories supposedly long since
reformed, but most people know, a lot of those problems are still
there. Most of today's "immigrants" are illegal, we have the "FDA" and
"Dept of Agriculture" that supposedly oversees food safety, but the
reality is, the slaughtering and butchering are done by untrained
people in hazardous conditions that are far from sanitary. Big
corporations exploit the workers (and the customers) just as they did
100 years ago.
So this film tries to "wake the public up" and inform us how horrible it is to eat meat, both because the cattle suffered being made into the patty, (which everyone knows they do), the processed meat is almost always tainted ("cook it! that's the answer!" one of the film's characters explains-also, basically true-throughly cooked meat + the acids in your stomach usually = bacteria killed, but, still--) and, of course, the big bad conglomerates only care about one thing-making a few more cents per unit sold (also true).
All of this, I think would have been better in the format of Morgan Spurlocks "Super Size Me" -rather than a fictionalized account-Spurlock directly confronted the conglomerate he had the issue with (McDonalds) instead of making up a company name), and I think that if the film had been a documentary rather than fiction-it would have achieved more of an effect. Talk to real packing house workers, ex employees, etc. YOu don't need "Syriana" entwining story threads and sex scenes to tell this story effectively, and if you want to outrage the public, you need to cover the story for real. This wound up just a preachy story with no solutions.
A famous wit of the last century or so--I don't remember if it was Will Rogers, or Mark Twain, said something like "If one has any regard for laws or sausages, they should not see how they are made." Will watching this film really make you give up meat? I doubt it.
This film had the potential to provide some insight into some important
issues such as our treatment of livestock, conditions in meatpacking
plants, the safety and quality of our food, and illegal immigration.
But no such insight is provided, instead we are merely told what most
of us already know, which is the common knowledge that these
conditions/problems exist. The film never goes beyond this in any deep
or meaningful way. Instead, we get a loose, half-assed story full of
lame, half-assed characters. This film comes across as made by a
"slacker" and not an accomplished filmmaker which Richard Linklater
certainly is. Perhaps he should stick to "Romance" films, which he does
And another thing, I'm sick and tired of seeing actors like Bruce Willis show up in films for no damn good reason. Yet here he is again, sleep-walking through another cameo role that is a poor fit for him. It would have worked much better to hire an unknown actor to portray this character who could have been so much more appropriate and convincing in the role. Why cast Willis here? Did the filmmakers actually think having Willis in a 10 minute scene would give the film more prestige and sell more tickets? One of several poor celebrity actor cameo casting choices in this film.
Important issues in this film, but poorly executed with no real insight provided. Perhaps material better suited to Michael Moore or someone who makes actual documentaries.
Don Anderson is head of marketing for fast food chain Mickey's who is
currently residing over strong sales of flagship product The Big One.
When word gets out that a college project has identified high levels of
faecal material within a frozen burger, Anderson gets on it to get to
the bottom of it and prepare to deal if anything kicks off in the
media. Meanwhile sisters Sylvia and Coco smuggle themselves across the
border with a party of others, heading to a single room in a motel to
await work at the local meat packing plant. At the same time, teenager
Amber works the counter at the local branch of Mickey's and is
beginning to feel that something is not right.
Like many others, I found the book Fast Food Nation to be a compelling read, one that was sufficient to convince me to stop eating junk food (although coincidentally a terrible bout of food-poisoning from a certain chicken place meant that the attraction of the smell was lost to me forever). It wasn't enough to turn me vegetarian but it was impacting in its exposé of safety risks, worker rights, health concerns and so on. In bringing this book to the screen, the choice was made to do it as a work of fiction and take the story structure done in films like Traffic and Syriana, where we see a topic from many views, all coming together in one overall message or point. Having seen this approach produce some strong films, I was fine with this and not at all snooty about it not being a documentary. However, the problem I had with it is that it doesn't make this transition in a success way.
The problem is not with the jump from non-fiction to fiction but rather the way it is done. You see, instead of hanging together really well and brining the viewer to the inevitable conclusion, the film just seems to follow three threads one of them sort of has an end but the other two fizzle away into nothing. This happens while the three also remain particularly separate from one another and never come together to form the message that the film is trying to deliver. In this regard actually the film also falls down because it didn't impact me at all and seemed to be unsure of quite what it was saying on various topics. The issue of working conditions is not really addressed in a way that is shocking and the film appears to rely on the gore of the kill floor to make the point but those who are surprised by the unpleasantness of the process are perhaps being a bit naïve. Likewise in the area of marketing, the film doesn't really do much to make a point about the tactics and compromises made by these corporations I expected more teeth, as it is it just fizzles away. These failures were across the board and I was surprised by just how weak it appeared in regards structure, delivery and hammering home the point. It is weakened further by making the points it does make in a very clumsy and hand-wringing fashion and it certainly never gets close to challenging the audience or revealing something about the bigger the picture.
You can see what the film could have been if you read the book and certainly the cast appeared to have been hoping for much more, given the names involved. Kinnear, Guzmán, Arquette, Willis, Kristofferson, Hawke and Lavigne all turn up and give reasonable performances, it is just a shame that the material doesn't justify them bothering. Moreno and Talancón are good in their roles and are the only people who I genuinely felt something for as characters they did well to produce the vulnerability of pretty young women in their position, open to exploitation and forced to make at least some compromises to get by. Linklater's direction of the script he co-wrote is disappointing and it is hard to put the blame too far from his door.
Overall then an interesting enough film but one that is impossible to look passed the missed potential. Nothing really hangs together or comes together at the end. Threads are just forgotten without any real point made and, while one can understand why all the stars wanted to support this film, it is a shame that the material lets them down at every turn. Interesting but is weak in every way that Schlosser's book was strong; my advice would be to read that instead.
There's sh*t in the burgers and a lot of it in some of these other
reviews (please don't yank my comments b/c of that). I think there's a
few people who missed the point and a few more who have trouble
watching something that isn't a mind numbing action film.
I wouldn't say this is a great movie but it gets the job done and hopefully leaves you craving more info on a business that doesn't receive much public notice beyond "red meat's not good for your health." Dun-dun-dun the MEAT INDUSTRY. This wasn't about fast food and it wasn't about illegal immigration or drugs. Kris Kristopherson and Bruce Willis were the prime characters in this one. Check out their scenes and that's all you need to see.
I'll probably get buried on page 15 of these reviews but here's a great current article (1/28/08) published in NY Times about the meat consumption and it's effects:(www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html).
Every character in Richard Linklater's "Fast Food Nation" is a 2
dimensional stereotype. Out of all these characters and their stories
the only one I found a common bond with was the one played by Bruce
Willis in his single, eat-on, scene. I never read the book, but from
what I know it is a non-fiction account of the darker side of the fast
food industry. It sounded like it'd be a good subject for a
documentary, investigative report, or some other form of legitimate
journalism. When I saw trailers for Linklater's fictionalized film of
this book I couldn't help but view it as a misstep. But, before I
alienate too many people, allow me to flesh out the movie a little.
The story follows Greg Kinnear, an executive at a fictional fast food chain called Mickey's, from an optimistic meeting to the source of the meat he's just learned is tainted with fecal traces. In the town in Colorado where the questioned slaughterhouse is we meet illegal immigrants toiling in it, corrupt supervisors, grizzled ranchers, and lastly disillusioned teens working at the local Mickey's. The story jumps back and forth between each character bringing us all towards a conclusion few would be surprised by.
Early in watching this I labeled it a burger version of Soderbergh's "Traffic". Later as the film failed to hold interest I settled on it being the burger version of "Syriana". A multiple focus film such as this one rarely works because the ambition of telling so many stories usually results in television quality writing. "Fast Food Nation" is almost worse than that because rather than being a large scope drama it's muckraking passing for one sold by a parade of cameos.
I don't want to make this a political review, but it's hard to avoid when critiquing a film that decided for itself to make a single sided statement rather than tell a story. The closest this came to objectivity was the voice of Bruce Willis's cameo which told us something true: as long as food is within legal health limits and cooked properly it's fit to eat in spite of what may have been a disgusting origin. I'm no "neo-con" or even conservative, but the plain truth is that the world is imperfect and there's nothing wrong with growing up and facing certain truths. And to anyone who thinks I'm cruelly smearing a righteous message can read a highly recommended book on the same subject: Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle". It touches on all the same things, the meat industry being tough unfair work, the world embracing mediocrity, and unsavory things being in our food, but it remains interesting throughout.
This whole story is about people becoming disillusioned. Was any information in this movie really a surprise? The only characters I'd really believe it with are the immigrant workers. It was hard to feel much for these characters anyhow since the only way to get a fair shake anywhere is to become a citizen and these characters didn't bother with that. Life may suck and fast food may be mediocre but this is not news.
Apologies to have ranted a little here but "Fast Food Nation" inspires it. The movie wants "love it or hate it" status and on its own terms I hated it. Those who love it can have it, I'll have a burger instead.
After watching this movie it's very hard to pass by a fast food restaurant again without wondering were the food comes from. This movie delivers more than it promises, and therefore like "Super Size Me", it's a "must see" movie. It's shows without cuts that the truth is out there and that we cannot close our eyes to the wrong things that some companies are doing to the planet and the exploitation that men is practicing against each other. Some moments of the movie are hard to watch for it's crudity, but if this is the price, than OK, it's really worth paying. Congratulations for the wonderful job made by Lynklater, that has proved tons of versatility by directing this movie after delivering the cult movie "Before The Sunrise".
I liked this movie. I never read the book its based on, but Its about a
guy who works for the marketing department of a fast food chain called
Mickeys and they discover there's crap in the burgers. He is sent down
to Texas or somewhere to investigate. While hes there he gets a burger
in a Mickeys and one of the guys spits in his burger. We also follow a
bunch of Mexicans on a quest to go into America for a better life.
However they all get jobs in the meat factory and one guy loses a leg.
I thought it was a very good movie, and Avril Lavigne is in it too and
shes fairly hot.
Bruce Willis also makes an appearance as a guy who knows all about the industry and he gives us an insight into the hypocrisy of the industry. Greg Kinnear finely plays the unscrupulous marketing executive who is determined to just do his job and find out why there's crap in the burgers. In the end he fails.
In the end you see all the cows getting murdered and it was pretty shocking. You see all the heads with the skin peeled off and their horns hacked off
So for those reasons , I am giving it 8 stars.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Despite its attempt to bring via an ensemble and interlocked stories -- a narrative style that now seems to be the norm -- the horrors of an industry that relies on the killing of cows for their meat, FAST FOOD NATION arrives mainly D.O.A. It ceased to motivate me after its first third, and for a motion picture that lasts almost shy of two hours, watching this tedious story unfold was like climbing a very steep hill without functioning legs. I understand the message, by the way -- it's just that it's hammered into every fraction, every inch of its page, until very little is left and all I could do was say, "Well! Seeing that sunny picture of a cow getting chopped to pieces really made me want to skip that meatloaf I had planned on eating, didn't it?" (At least, the sight of a very macho Bobby Cannavale was worth the price of admission. A different kind of beef, so to speak, but one can dream....)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Eric Schlosser's landmark book "Fast Food Nation" seriously changed
common perceptions of fast food and led to a flood of similar books and
documentaries. Now the author, who co-wrote the script, has teamed with
director Richard Linklater and produced this compelling visualisation
of his findings.
It's not a documentary per se, but uses a fictional framework to explore very real issues. The film is packed with solid set-pieces and performances. The film's narrative strands are slightly jumbled and the scripts discussion of the politics of fast food occasionally inhibits genuine interaction between the characters, but this doesn't really matter too much as what is presented is interesting and provocative.
The first narrative stream introduces Don (Greg Kinnear), a marketing executive with Mickey's fast food chain who is sent to investigate claims of cattle manure cropping up the in the company's meat. The second follows Amber (Ashley Johnson), a bright high-schooler stuck in a dead-end job as a cashier at a Mickey's restaurant and a group of Mexican illegal immigrants, among them Sylvia (Catalina Sandino Moreno), Coco (Ana Claudia) and Estaban (Juan Carlos Serran), who find work in the torrid conditions of a meat-packing plant...
The acting all-round here is excellent, particularly from the unknown actors playing the immigrants who deliver arguably the most moving performances and the scenes featuring them are memorably horrific (the scene where a man horribly injures himself cleaning the meat grinder, and the film's finale on the killing floor of the meat factory).
Greg Kinnear, whose character for a while seems almost an extension of Schlosser himself, is also excellent. Other standout roles include Linklater regular Ethan Hawke as Amber's free spirit uncle; Paul Dano as an idle, unscrupulous burger boy who dreams of robbing his restaurant; and singer Avril Lavigne as a student activist. Kris Kristofferson is also very moving as a rancher whose livelihood is threatened by advancing capitalism.
Best of all is Bruce Willis as a meat supplier who delivers the film's surprising message - "We have to eat a little s*** sometimes". He tempers any liberal tendencies of the movie with a heavy dose of realism and common sense.
The film is by no means a definitive look at the subject of fast food, but will hopefully pave the way for many more movies that expand on what has been presented here.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well, in the beginning, you see this fast food executive, Don Henderson
talking to the CEO of this major fast food store, Mickey's, about cow
feces is somehow 'finding it's way' into Mickey's burgers. So, Don has
to go to investigate this problem and takes a trip to the Mickey's
headquarters in Colorado, which is also where the Mickey's meat
supplier is located. Then, they cut to the illegal immigrant workers
trying to cross the boarder to 'have a better life'. The immigrants are
then all shoved into a van and taken to Colorado, to a small motel.
Where, all 15-20 of them share a room until they get jobs..The next
day, a few of them are taken to the meat packaging plant, to either
clean, the 'kill deck', separate the meat, or actually kill the cows.
Oh, and their supervisor is having sexual relations with all the
illegal immigrant women, and gets 'em hooked on drugs. Real nice
guy...Meanwhile, we cut to a local girl actually working at a Mickey's.
She doesn't like it, but thinks really, nothing's wrong with it...So,
we follow the injustices these people go through. During the movie
though, the girl working at Mickey's wises up, and finally quits. Smart
girl. Finally, at the end, we're treaded with seeing just how they
actually kill these innocent cows, and what they go through JUST to
I feel like saying I 'liked' it would be like saying I actually like watching animals being killed, and people stripped of all their dignity...Nonetheless, it is a real eye opener. I agree though, it does go hand-in-hand with 'Super Size Me', which was also an eye opener and a excellent film. I think everyone on the planet should see Fast Food Nation. Well, at least everyone in the U.S. Maybe then, we wouldn't have an obesity epidemic.
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