6.3/10
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170 user 152 critic

Fast Food Nation (2006)

R | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 4 May 2007 (UK)
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An ensemble piece examining the health risks involved in the fast food industry and its environmental and social consequences as well.

Director:

Richard Linklater
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Wilmer Valderrama ... Raul
Catalina Sandino Moreno ... Sylvia
Ana Claudia Talancón ... Coco
Juan Carlos Serrán Juan Carlos Serrán ... Esteban (as Juan Carlos Serran)
Armando Hernández Armando Hernández ... Roberto (as Armando Hernandez)
Greg Kinnear ... Don Anderson
Frank Ertl ... Jack
Michael D. Conway ... Phil (as Michael Conway)
Mitch Baker ... Dave
Ellar Coltrane ... Jay Anderson (as Ellar Salmon)
Dakota Edwards Dakota Edwards ... Stevie Anderson
Dana Wheeler-Nicholson ... Debi Anderson
Luis Guzmán ... Benny (as Luis Guzman)
Bobby Cannavale ... Mike
Francisco Rosales Francisco Rosales ... Jorge
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Storyline

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 1felco

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Are we what we eat? See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for disturbing images, strong sexuality, language and drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

4 May 2007 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Coyote See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$410,804, 19 November 2006, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,004,059, 28 January 2007
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film features four castmembers from director Richard Linklater's Boyhood (2014): Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, and Marco Perella. See more »

Goofs

In the scene where Amber and her friend are driving and talking about going to a college party, an HEB grocery sign is clearly visible in the background. This grocery is only located in Texas, so therefore the girls in Colorado wouldn't be driving by it. See more »

Quotes

Alice: [to a cow] Come on, don't you want to be free?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The 2nd set of end credits scroll from top to bottom in front of a conveyor belt with pre-processed hamburgers. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Food, Inc. (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Gasolina
Written by Daddy Yankee (as Ramon Ayala)
Performed by Daddy Yankee
Courtesy of El Cartel Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
a kind of head on collision of message and character, with the former winning over the latter
19 November 2006 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

There's a tendency in films of this nature, of the Fast Food Nation kind, where you already know going into it what the message is. It's not quite exactly as immediately black and white as it might seem (at first), but then after a while it becomes much more clear. While filmmaker Richard Linklater doesn't make very simple statements like 'fast food will make you fat', he does try to push the message that the sort of machinery of corporation is similar to that of the assembly line, is what is crippling to those entwined in the circle of cheap product made from dead meat. Which is fine; I'm not one of those that think precisely along the lines of Bertolucci, who was quoted as saying that he leaves messages for the post office and not for film. However, I do expect that if a filmmaker wants to put forward the message- and boy does Fast Food Nation do that more than anything- to make the characters &/or story lines interesting in the dramatic framework. He achieves this, but only up to a point. Narrative focus and dramatic drive only come through much more effectively within the last 45 minutes, while the first half seems startlingly dull, or at the least meandering.

That being said, I did find elements here and there throughout the weaker section of the film interesting. There's even a spellbinding aerial shot of the seemingly unending field of cattle, waiting for the slaughter. But for the most part early on we're treated to the sort of set-up of the main story lines: a group of Mexican illegals (one of them, Sylvia, played well by Catalina Moreno) get picked up by a guy in a van, and taken to a 'Mart' in town, and go to find work. Most of the illegals find it at a meat-packing/grinding/whatever plant, where what is seen by a quasi executive type, Don Anderson (Greg Kinnear), is not seeing everything he thinks he is when shown around the plant. He meets with a couple of people, one environmentally conscious and protective of his land from corporations (Kris Kristofferson), and another who is cynical and not too optimistic (Bruce Willis, who has one of the best scenes in the film albeit with a speech attached). Meanwhile, as he goes into a Mickey's (ho-ho) to get a 'Big One' burger from Amber (Ashley Johnson), Linklater and co-writer Eric Schlosser also follow her tale of nothingness of the small-town teenage girl.

All of these stories interconnect at times, or are left to themselves. While one is actually intriguing and ultimately very sad, which is the Mexican immigrants tale (that sense of tragic exploitation going on that ends up finding a place in the 'Nation' sense of the word), the other two either spurt to a halt after a while, or just kind of go on aimlessly until the last few scenes. The former of those with Kinnear doesn't give him that much to do aside from listening to people talk, and on the phone talking to his family. In a way he could've had his own film as a character, like with Wally Wiggins in Waking Life, but on its own Linklater leaves him be after the first hour, and then coming to a wrap-around in a predictably dour manner in the end credits. Amber's story, on the other hand, is sort of the opposite- she is just a small-town girl living in a lonely world (as the song goes), and sometimes listening to idiotic plots to rob the Mickey's by his co-workers, while here and there figuring out the future for herself.

What's both fascinating and frustrating about the film though could be seen sort of from Amber's storyline, where you see scenes that are convincing both in characters talking like real people (ala Ethan Hawke's moments), but also having not as much to do with the real 'message' going across that one might think- that is until Amber joins up with the young Animal-rights/ecological brigade and goes to cut a fence down to let the cows out. This actually had a real pathos to it, and was even entertaining (probably against Linklater's own intentions). But it's not just the writing or how Linklater connects the stories together. Acting wise it's hit or miss- Moreno is fantastic in a role that ends her up seeing the actual slaughtering of cows (which is staggering, whatever you think about serving meat in fast food). But the huge ensemble either gets their little moments well like Willis or Hawke, or either 'phones it in' like Kristofferson or just outright sucks like Lavigne. There's even a convincing one-note turn by the sleazy, pig manager of the assembly line job (I forget his name), but he too only get to have his character do what's required in the script.

As I walked out of the theater I realized that this wasn't at all a bad film, in fact it's a a pretty decent effort at dramatizing in small-town/big-ensemble fashion what it is to have the ugliness of consumer productivity. But that I also found it to be, of the films I've seen of his so far, my least favorite of Linklater's, which goes to show how strong a work he can still deliver when when not working at full throttle. And it's a little ironic considering how much of a success I found A Scanner Darkly to be, possibly coming closest to my favorite of his, and how both films take on a specific message to the audience, but one accomplishes it by basing it around characters and a really tightly-knit storyline and style that is consistently engaging, while the other is content to hop around from malaise to shock to whatever. Grade: B


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