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Fast Food Nation is a 2006 American/British drama film directed by Richard Linklater. The screenplay was written by Linklater and Eric Schlosser, loosely based on the latter's bestselling 2001 non-fiction book of the same name.

Plot

At the core of the ensemble drama is Don Anderson (Greg Kinnear), the Marketing Director for the hamburger chain Mickey's (a parody of McDonald's and Burger King), who helped develop the "Big One" (a parody of the Big Mac and the Whopper, popular menu items from McDonald's and Burger King respectively), its most popular menu item. When he learns that independent research has discovered the considerable presence of fecal matter in the meat, he travels to the fictitious town of Cody, Coloradomarker to verify if the local slaughterhouse, the main supplier for Mickey's, is guilty of sloppy production techniques.

Don's tour of the processing plant shows him only the pristine work areas and most efficient procedures, but those with previous connections to the company alert him of all the horrors that were kept secret from him. Don slowly comes to the realization that the simple hamburger sold by Mickey's and everywhere else may not be as healthy as the public is led to believe it is.

Secondary plots deal with the exploitation of [undocumented immigration to the United States undocumented immigrants]] from Mexicomarker, the expectations of fast food restaurant employees and how they are treated, and the efforts of a small group of young anti-corporate activists to save the cattle from horrendous conditions.

Several smaller sub-plots, such as a girl working for Mickey's becoming disillusioned, teenagers planning an act of defiance against the company, and the life of a particular Mexican woman as it is affected by the fast food industry are all featured in the film.

Cast



Production

The film was shot on location in Austinmarker and Houstonmarker, Texasmarker and Colorado Springs, Coloradomarker.

Critical reception

The film received mixed reviews. As of September 7, 2009, film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes indicates that the film has an approval rating of 51%, based on 136 reviews (70 "Fresh"; 66 "Rotten"), with an average score of 5.7/10.

A. O. Scott of The New York Times said the film, "while it does not shy away from making arguments and advancing a clear point of view, is far too rich and complicated to be understood as a simple, high-minded polemic. It is didactic, yes, but it's also dialectical. While the climactic images of slaughter and butchery — filmed in an actual abattoir — may seem intended to spoil your appetite, Mr. Linklater and Mr. Schlosser have really undertaken a much deeper and more comprehensive critique of contemporary American life ... The movie does not neglect the mute, helpless suffering of the cows, but it also acknowledges the status anxiety of the managerial class, the aspirations of the working poor (legal and otherwise) and the frustrations of the dreaming young. It's a mirror and a portrait, and a movie as necessary and nourishing as your next meal."

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone awarded the film three out of four stars and added, "It's less an expose of junk-food culture than a human drama, sprinkled with sly, provoking wit, about how that culture defines how we live ... The film is brimming with grand ambitions but trips on many of them as some characters aren't given enough screen time to register and others vanish just when you want to learn more about them."

Ruthe Stein of the San Francisco Chronicle felt "for all the filmmaker's good intentions, Fast Food Nation isn't a particularly good movie. It doesn't hold together or grip you the way a documentary might have. The people are sketchily drawn - just when you start to care about one of them, he or she vanishes. To get the consumer-beware message across, much of the dialogue sounds like preaching, an unnatural way to talk in what's billed as entertainment ... But it does get its message across. You're unlikely to leave the theater with a hankering for a fast food patty of any size."

Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote, "Richard Linklater's rough-hewn tapestry of assorted lives that feed off of and into the American meat industry is both rangy and mangy; it remains appealing for its subversive motives and revelations even as one wishes its knife would have been sharper ... In the end, viewers waiting for an emotional and/or dramatic payoff will be disappointed. As a call-to-arms, it's highly sympathetic but surprisingly mild-mannered."

Release

The film premiered In Competition at the Cannes Film Festivalmarker on May 19, 2006. It went into limited release in Australia on October 26, 2006.

Box office

The film opened on 321 screens in the US on November 17, 2006 and earned $410,804 in its opening weekend. It eventually grossed $1,005,539 in the US and $1,203,783 in foreign markets for a total worldwide box office of $2,209,322.

Home media

The DVD was released on March 6, 2007 and grossed $6.44 million in rentals in its first seven weeks.

Awards and nominations

Richard Linklater was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and the Imagen Foundation nominated Wilmer Valderrama Best Actor in Film.

See also



References



External links




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