The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

My quest to learn the musical instrument struck a chord much greater than the beautiful sound of a perfect stroke.
I decided to learn the guitar, but I walked away learning more about life
Bella Edmondson, Staff Editor • June 19, 2024
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‘Fast Food Nation’ supersizes audience satisfaction

Richard Linklater’s “Fast Food Nation,” a narrative adaptation of Eric Schlosser’s book of the same title, is absolutely not just another “Super Size Me.”

Schlosser’s book itself is the documentary of sorts. Linklater’s insightful and shocking film is the inside look at the lives of the people who live in our very own fast food nation.

“Fast Food Nation” skillfully interweaves the stories of several groups of characters whose lives represent the economic, environmental and health risks of the fast food industry.

In the slaughterhouse, we see a large amount of illegal immigrants, including Raul (Wilmer Valderrama) and Sylvia (Catalina Sandino Moreno). Their experience there is the most harrowing of the film, interspersed with tragic employee accidents and live slaughters. The vivid red of blood flowing down the drains leave audiences unsure of whether it is human or cow’s blood they’re seeing. The effect is extremely difficult to watch, and even more difficult to stomach. The final moments of the film depicting a live slaughter will haunt you more than any horror film you’ve seen this year, leaving you questioning whether or not you really want to “have it your way.”

But the story dares to take lighter ventures outside the killing fields as it follows Don Anderson (Greg Kinnear), a “Mickey’s” corporate executive on a quest to find out what’s really in the burgers he mass markets to millions of Americans each day. What he suspects about the beef is entrenched in a heavy coverup, leaving Anderson in doubt over the ethics of his profession. Greg Kinnear is tremendous in this role, adding another stellar performance to his year in film. He is clearly the easiest character for audiences to identify with in the film as he questions both his own morality and that of the company he works for.

The film also focuses on Amber (Ashley Johnson) and Brian (Paul Dano), two employees at a Mickey’s fast food restaurant. The two actors play their roles with refreshing honesty, giving the audience the impression of actual teenagers playing teenagers in film- a trend not often felt in Hollywood. Amber’s futile attempts at participating in a disorganized protest (with angry activist students played by Avril Lavigne and Lou Taylor Pucci) are frustrating to watch, as the group naively attempts to free a herd of cows with no success.

“Fast Food Nation” is truly an ensemble piece, featuring additional performances by Bruce Willis as a meat supplier who’s not amused by Anderson’s quest to find out what’s really in Mickey’s burgers, Luis Guzman as a man who sneaks Mexican immigrants across the border, and Ethan Hawke as Amber’s Uncle who encourages her to quit her job at Mickey’s.

What’s incredible about this film is the fact that Linklater took a non-fiction book that insightfully combines disturbing facts about the fast food industry with balanced biographies of fast food legends like Ray Kroc, and made it into a human drama that shows how the fast food culture defines how America lives. The interweaving of the stories is immensely effective, as the stories provide a stark contrast to each other.

What’s almost disappointing about the film is that fact that it won’t stand up to repeat viewings. That’s not a reflection on the quality of the movie; “Fast Food Nation” is a solid film. It just happens to be so alternately frustrating, depressing and frightening that it would take someone with a really strong stomach to watch it again. Audiences will be hard-pressed to not see something of themselves in any one of the characters that Linklater so skillfully portrays on the screen.

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