MovieWatch: "Fast Food Nation"
"Fast Food Nation"
Director: Richard Linklater
Fien Print Rating (Out of 100): 71
In a Nutshell: For at least its first hour, Richard Linklater's semi-adaptation of Eric Schlosser's muckraking expose about the fast food industry is about as strong as one could possibly hope, given that it's a movie based on a book that's based on statistics and research. With only the barest of plots involving a burger company exec (Greg Kinnear), several illegal immigrants (including Wilmer Valderamma, Catalina Sandino Moreno) at a meat packing company and several high schoolers working McJobs (led by Ashley Johnson), Linklater weaves a story of corporate complicity that goes into more depth and detail on issues of class and race in contemporary America than nearly any studio film I can think of. There isn't much plot, but people keep encountering familiar actors (Bruce Willis, Kris Kristofferson and Ethan Hawke), who deliver long and politicized monologues. It's clunky, but I was never bored and I appreciated Linklater's commitment to intelligence as a corrective to the glibness of Jason Reitman's over-praised "Thank You For Smoking." It's rare that you can pin-point so perfectly where a movie goes off the rails, but in the case of "Fast Food Nation," it's the moment that Avril Lavigne pops up as a chirpy college activist. She jeopardizes any claim to authenticity the movie may have made and announces an over-plotted attempt to tie everything up by the end. She's so distracting (her character as much as her pseudo-punky Canadian presence) that some viewers may tune out and miss the Killing Floor sequence that so clearly is mean as the Money Shot for "Fast Food Nation." I still appreciated the movie for its politics and its aspirations and also for a number of the performances, particularly those given by Kinnear, Johnson, Willis, Bobby Cannavale and the entirely Fez-Free Valderamma (who is good entirely by virtue of not being an annoying distraction).