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  Publicity Stills of "Fast Food Nation"
(Courtesy from GVP)

Genre: Drama
Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Greg Kinnear, Avril Lavigne, Catalina Sandino Moreno
RunTime: 1 hr 53 mins
Released By: GVP
Rating: M18
Website: http://www2.foxsearchlight.com/fastfoodnation/



Opening Day: 4 January 2007

Synopsis :

‘The Big One’ is the latest burger from fast-food chain Mickey’s and it’s shaping up to be their most successful product yet. However, there’s something strange in the meat. Company man Don is sent to investigate the meat-packing plant in Cody, Colorado where ‘The Big one’ comes from.

Movie Review:

Disturbed is the word to describe the feeling one will get having watched Fast Food Nation. If Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me made you put off upsizing your meal and cutting down your fast food consumption intake, then Fast Food Nation will make you think twice about picking up that succulent and juicy burger.

Unlike Morgan Spurlock who went on a one-man fast food eating rampage, Richard Linklater’s fictional account (albeit seemingly real) refuses to take sides and instead, provides the audience with the ability to formulate an opinion. Linklater drives the audience around stories of different individuals whose lives intersect as they form the developmental cycle of the fast food world. In doing so, the audience is taken on a journey that begins from the very cow which is slain to the consumer who purchases the burger.

Forming what is the most dynamic part of the chain, Don Henderson (Greg Kinnear), vice-president of Mickey’s Burgers, is sent to Colorado to inspect the meat packing company. Students from a local university had taken tests from different burger patties and had discovered that Mickey’s patties contained, urm, shit. Holding up the film is also the story of Amber (Ashley Johnson), a straight-A student who is working part-time at a Mickey’s branch. Pressed by her peers and family to quit her job, she finds the key to doing so when she joins an environmental awareness college group. Joining the two stories together is the story of illegal immigrants from Mexico who endure the dangers of crossing the border to find work and a better life. In the case of Raul (Wilmer Valderrama) and Sylvia (Catalina Sandina Moreno), they end up in Colorado and eventually working for the meat packing company.

Fast Food Nation has an excellent cast of Academy Award Nominees like Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine) and Catalina Sandina Moreno (Maria Full of Grace), which is supported by the likes of Linklater favourite, Ethan Hawke (Before Sunset) and Bruce Willis (Die Hard). The cast is further strengthened by singer, Avril Lavigne, Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine), Luis Guzman (Punch Drunk Love) and Patricia Arquette (True Romance). Usually, the problem with an ensemble film like this is that actors who have a fairly smaller role rarely make much of an impact. However, in the case of Fast Food Nation, the actors rock big time. Ethan Hawke rambles a lot but he has power dialogue and Bruce Willis? Bruce owns the scene he appears in with various memorable lines and yes, it does include the word shit.

However, while the actors get their work done tremendously, the film as a whole fails to hold up as a compelling story. Sure, Linklater allows the audience to formulate their own perceptions but each of the three main stories could work better as stand alone films. In attempting to show the cycle of “life” in the fast food industry, the pacing and editing of the film is sacrificed. Starting off with Don Henderson’s quest to find the shit in the meat, the audience’s curiosity is piqued. When the film meanders towards the sub-stories, the curiosity lingers but eventually wanes until the finale, which might induce a little vomit or two.

Fast Food Nation is a watchable film for its ability to stir controversial material into something that is not too preachy or judgmental. Hey, for all you know, this film might just contribute to that diet you have always wanted to do but have put off.

Movie Rating:

(Fast Food Nation will make you think twice about consuming fast food faster than you can say upsize.)

Review by Mohamad Shaifulbahri


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