Friday, December 29, 2006

Fast Food Nation

Super Size Me With Extra Lies

At first glance, my impression of Fast Food Nation is that it'll take a more documentary approach in highlighting issues about the fast food industry. It did look like it had room for satire with a provocative style, but should you be expecting something along the lines of Super Size Me, then this is the wrong movie for you.

For starters, it's got an appeal like Thank You For Smoking, but its narrative choice of attaching characters to mouthpiece different issues, seemed to make the movie feel very scattered in its presentation of ideas. While this approach had its merits, giving different ideas appropriate focus and dedicated screentime, it didn't make a very compelling, thorough argument as a whole. Something along the lines of having too many cooks spoiling the broth, and it really kept the best for the last, building an anticipation which got glossed over too quickly.

Fast Food Nation contains an excellent ensemble cast assembled, and characters ranged from illegal immigrants crossing over the US border from Mexico, to cattle ranchers, food processing plant workers, fast food outlet workers, and all the way up to the corporate boardroom of a fictional fast food chain. The entire supply chain of the fast food industry gets addressed, and every perceived skeleton from the closet gets its fair share of air time. You have doctored reports, tales from the production floor, sexual favours, poor work conditions and lack of benefits, and tons of lies.

Richard Linklater movies have dialogue which rock, and there is no lack of those in Fast Food Nation. In particular, pay attention during the scene with Bruce Willis (yes) and Greg Kinnear. It meanders around, trying to reason, before coming down like a sledgehammer. That conversation itself is a worth the price of an admission ticket, seriously.

The book (I managed to scan through it) probably packed a lot more theories and figures which should make it a compelling read, but the movie, whose screenplay is also co-written by the author Eric Schlosser, in having to adopt a different approach to present those ideas, somehow diluted some of them. But the movie should make you want to pick up the book for more.

And yes, I'm swearing off burgers and fast food for a while.

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