FAST FOOD NATION
FAST FOOD NATION: WHAT SUPERSIZE ME DOESN’T SHOW YOU
Dealing with immigration, a new generation wanting to make a difference, and corporate America, Fast Food Nation shows the negative domino effect of the fast food industry. And it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. High profile fast food chains are turning a high profit while exploiting illegal immigrants. But how far do you go to change the world? Richard Linklater (Before Sunset, A Scanner Darkly) partners with author Eric Schlosser (who wrote the book of the same name) to bring this heavy topic to the screen that includes an all star cast.
Mickey’s is a nationwide fast food restaurant and it is about to have some press issues. Some college students did some testing on their frozen patties and found fecal matter. Don Anderson (Greg Kinnear), the vice president of marketing for Mickey’s is sent to Cody, Colorado to investigate the meat packing plant that provides all of their meat. Coco (Ana Claudia Talancon), Sylvia (Catalina Sandino Moreno), and Raul (Wilmer Valderrama) cross the Mexican border illegally into the United States to find a better life. Raul gets a job at the meat packing plant in Cody. Sylvia tries to work there but she can’t take it and gets a job doing housekeeping at a motel. Coco works at the plant and gets involved with her supervisor Mike (Bobby Cannavale) even after she is warned by co-workers not to. Amber (Ashley Johnson) works at the local Mickey’s to help her mom with the bills and save for college. She is a good kid. When she meets some idealistic college students at a party, she finds herself stuck between continuing to make money at a job she doesn’t agree with and following her heart. All are connected by their will to survive and follow what they think is right.
The story does well with connecting the characters. It isn’t preachy, showing you both signs of the coin. When Don finds that things aren’t what they seem at the plant, he communicates this to Harry (Bruce Willis), who is supposed to be Mickey’s liaison with the plant. Harry basically tells him that the fecal matter is a fact of life. Don threatens to tell his boss. Harry tells him that his boss is on thin ice and it wouldn’t do well to tell him what he has found, putting Don in a bad position. Greg Kinnear stands out as the executive who wants to do right by his customers. Ashley Johnson, most recognizable as Chrissy Seaver from Growing Pains, does well as the earnest high school student who is trying to get by but also stick to her principles. Scenes inside the meat packing plant have the most impact. The “kill floor” is enough to make you not want to eat cow anymore. There is a graphic scene toward the end that will put you over the edge. Not recommended if you want to stay a meat eater.
Amber’s coworkers discussing stealing from Mickey’s seemed to be thrown in for good measure. They talk in hushed tones and try to get Amber in on it. It seems more to make them look cool but comes across as silly and pathetic.
Fast Food Nation makes its point with the subject matter. Everybody is affected by the wrongdoings of big name corporations, fast food chains in particular. This is an important issue that isn’t taken seriously enough. So is ignorance bliss?