johnlink ranks FAST FOOD NATION (2006)

This was the companion piece to FOOD INC. , both of which contain producing credits for Eric Schlosser. FAST FOOD NATION is cowritten by Schlosser and each film deals with the topic of where our food comes from. While FOOD, INC. is a documentary which seeks to enhance knowledge about the topic, FAST FOOD NATION is a drama, written to showcase the sort of people who are effected every day by the big conglomerate food companies. Some SPOILERS are contained within this review.

I watched FAST FOOD NATION (2006) on 10.29.10. It was my first viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE

So this film follows three main stories. We have a group of illegal immigrants who are put to work in the slaughterhouse, where we learn about the exploitation of these individuals. We follow a typical employee of a fictional Mickey’s burger joint, played by Ashley Johnson. We watch as she first embraces her job, and then becomes an activist against the meat industry. The third thread is that of Mickey’s marketing guy, played by Greg Kinnear, and we watch as he becomes disenfranchised the more he learns.

The film lacks real balance. The first half of the movie is heavily focused on Kinnear’s character, but half way through his story is resolved and we don’t see him again until the credits. Then we pick up Johnson’s character as she becomes more of an activist. It’s unclear what, other than a visit from her hippie uncle played by Ethan Hawke, thrusts her into this role. It comes across not as passion, but as indifferent boredom. Throughout the film we do get the immigrants’ story, but it often comes across as contrived and heavy handed.

And therein is the major problem this film has. Where FOOD, INC. was a documentary with real people, FAST FOOD NATION feels overly directed. This movie wants you to have a particular reaction, and it is not subtle  whatsoever. This is a cameo heavy film, which tries to turn the cache of its stars into a vehicle for message delivery. And heck, I’m on board with most of the principles this film wants to promote, but I found myself rolling my eyes at the obviously manipulated scenarios.

What is disappointing is that much of the acting is good. But the writing doesn’t have the focus and subtlety needed to make this more than a one-time watch. We see it, we get it, and whether we agree or disagree, we feel like we were forced into something rather than allowing it to wash over us. I’d rather watch FOOD, INC. again any time.

SCORES

FILM: 4; MOVIE: 5; ACTING: 7; WRITING: 3 (What is this?)

4+5+7+3+0=19

FINAL SCORE: 4.75

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~ by johnlink00 on October 31, 2010.

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