Fast Food Nation (2006)
Reviewed on 2008 May 12
Truly annoying, preachy, and clumsy movie based on the good (and disturbing) Eric Schlosser non-fiction work of the same name. The main problem with the movie is that it tries too hard in many places — twisting together several plots at once and setting them in a slaughter house that would give Upton Sinclair nightmares — then slacks in others. After all the work of setting the story lines up, the characters many times do something so out of character that I just laughed.
Don Anderson (Greg Kinnear) is a hot-shot executive for a fast food chain. He’s the golden boy at Mickey’s, a franchise noted for its new creation, the Big One. (I think I mentioned this thing isn’t subtle. What’s sad is this is the good part.) Things should be sunny for Don, but he’s told by his supervisor that the meat from one of the plants is contaminated. It has high levels of fecal coliform bacteria, and he needs to find out why.
Don goes on a fact finding mission to the Cody, Colorado meat packing plant that keeps Mickey’s supplied in Big Ones and Calypso Meals, and gets more information that he ever wanted. A little cow poo is the least of their worries. Coyotes like Benny (Luis Guzman) shuttle illegal workers to the UMW packing plant, where they run the gauntlet of unsafe working conditions, exploitation, and a dog of a foreman who likes to shag his pretty workers, sometimes in the fridge where your food is waiting. If that’s not gross enough for ya, don’t worry, there’s a scene with rats the size of Shetland ponies running around on the roof and lots of other horrors. This sort of thing went on for 116 minutes, and the only bright spot was Bruce Willis appearing as a sort of corporate soul taker, stuffing his face with a burger and saying Americans are turning into whiny girlymen because they prefer not to have a little e. coli with their food. He was great, but even this bright spot was negated later when we were browbeaten with a very special message from Avril Lavigne and her band of eco-warriors.
I liked Schlosser’s book and that’s why I’m being so hard on this thing: I expected better because he and I are on the same page about many things, plus he co-wrote the screenplay. This movie just irritated me. When someone beats me over the head with something like this, it makes me want to run into a PETA convention with a big bag of jalapeño poppers and tell everyone they’re really Veal McNuggets with spotted owl sauce.
One morsel, just because it has a point. An idiotic point, but still a point.