Film Reviews


By • Nov 17th, 2006 •

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Fox Searchlight Pictures / A Recorded Picture Co. presentation in association with HanWay Films, Participant Prods. and BBC Films
MPAA rating R / Running time — 112 minutes

I’ve never eaten fast food in my life. After seeing this movie, you will join my egg-whites-only lifestyle. For you, it will take the on-screen slaughter and gutting of a cow to do it.

I have not read Eric Schlosser’s 2001 best seller “Fast Food Nation” about the meat industry, since my life-long diet consists of no meat, fish, fowl, fruits, or vegetables. Director Richard Linklater must have looked at the marketing numbers: Everyone eats fast food. It has a built-in, interested-in-the-subject audience.

Fecal matter is in your hamburgers! But it is not enough to kill you, or it might be lonely for me in America. It might even make you stronger. Who knows? Did primitive man worry?

Everyone is fat in America over the age of ten. I’ve done the research. I look around and take notes. But in the American dating market, being fat is better than being obese!

I go to WalMart and Costco to scare my hunger away.

FAST FOOD NATION begins in Mexico where illegal aliens are sneaking into the country to find nasty work Americans refuse to do and long days for $10 an hour. Its horrible, filthy work but it buys a lot of comfort and food. Back home these people, we are told, could only make $3-4 a day!

The Mexicans arrive in Cody, Colorado to begin work at a cow-killing and meat processing plant. The plant is the major supplier of hamburgers for the Mickey’s fast food chain. The problem begins when research shows that meat from the plant is contaminated with fecal matter. Mickey’s executive Don Henderson (Greg Kinnear), who fears for his job, is sent to investigate the conditions at the plant.

High schoolers Amber (Ashley Johnson) and Brian (Paul Dano) work at a Mickey’s. Amber wants to get out of Cody. She has dreams of doing good.

Ashley’s mom is Cindy (Patricia Arquette). Her “hot” uncle is Pete (Ethan Hawke), who looks like he followed his dream to be a pot-smoker. Someone named Harry (Bruce Willis) turns up to read Don the Riot Act. It is the best performance, liveliest, and most truthful character in the movie.

Another friend of the director’s is day player Rudy (Kris Kristofferson).

Let’s not forget to thank tormented, spit-singerAvril Lavigne’s agent for putting her in a nice little role. She did quite well.

Newly arrived Mexicans including sisters Sylvia (Catalina Sandino Moreno) and Coco (Ana Claudia Talancon) and Sylvia’s husband Raul (Wilmer Valderrama), find work at the plant. The sister’s line boss is evil Mike (Bobby Cannavale), who sleeps with all the pretty girls or they go on the “Gut Line” pulling out cow kidneys from bloody carcasses. Coco soon falls for his charm.

Did you get my drift that the cast is stocked with characters that could easily be edited out of the film? I thought there was a Screenwriting 101 rule that said every scene had to be meaningful to the story and move it along or else don’t shoot it?

Somewhere along the filming, someone must have commented on the lack of story, drama, and characters no one cared about. So, to really amp up the message, a cow is killed and slaughtered in close-up.

Director: Richard Linklater
Screenwriters: Richard Linklater, Eric Schlosser
Based on the book by: Eric Schlosser
Producers: Jeremy Thomas, Malcolm MacLaren
Executive producers: Jeff Skoll, Ricky Strauss, Chris Salvaterra, Ed Saxon, Peter Watson, Eric Schlosser, David M. Thompson
Director of photography: Lee Daniel
Production designer: Bruce Curtis
Music: Friends of Dean Martinez
Costumes: Kari Perkins, Lee Hunsaker
Editor: Sandra Adair

Don Henderson: Greg Kinnear
Mike: Bobby Cannavale
Cindy: Patricia Arquette
Amber: Ashley Johnson
Tony: Esai Morales
Sylvia: Catalina Sandino Moreno
Paco: Lou Taylor Pucci
Coco: Ana Claudia Talancon

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