Fast Food Nation

exclusive feature
George & Suzanne Chatters
The Liberator Magazine 6.1 #17, 2007

"There is shit in the food," is by no means the only resonating message in Richard Linklater's latest film, "Fast Food Nation." In fact, if you need a reason to stop eating fast food or to begin supporting PETA-- this is your film. The story follows Don (Greg Kannier), a naive, suburban-dwelling and happily married marketing representative for a mega hamburger chain. His assignment: To investigate how fecal matter has contaminated the chain's best selling burger, "The Big One," which ships from the head meat packing facility based in southwest Colorado. As layers of corporate greed, bribery and atrocious treatment of undocumented immigrant workers are exposed, Don discovers he bit off more than he can chew, or rather, swallow.

The film is a fictitious adaptation of Eric Schalosser's best-selling expose of the fast food industry. Unlike the novel which focuses on boardroom jousting, Linklater shows the plight of the workers who suffer at the bottom of the corporate chain. Consistent with his political themes and poignant dialogue earlier displayed in "Waking Life" and this year's "Scanner Darkly" from the Phillip Kay Dick novel, "Fast Food Nation" challenges the morals and values of the subscribers of the fast food culture.

The film follows two undocumented plant workers (Catalina Sandino Moreno and Wilmer Valderrama's) as they go up against the corporate politics lubing the fast food industry. The ensemble cast, which include cameos from Ethan Hawk, Bruce Willis and Avril Lavigne all serve up hot and fresh performances.

Throughout the film, each character seems as helpless as two all beef patties on a sesame seed bun. For example, a local group of college activists make a futile attempt to liberate cattle by breaking into the local rancher’s property to release them into the wild, only to find that the cows did not want to leave their confined dormitory. Though their endeavors proved unsuccessful, the student’s most provocative mantra was "there is currently nothing more patriotic than violating the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act or confronting the conservative-lead view on immigration and public policy."

You will easily digest Linklater's documentary style as the film breaks story line for a moment to provide you with graphic undercover footage showing the meat being processed from the plant into your burger. For those who need a break from Hollywood’s trans-fatty films, treat yourself to Linklater's food for thought.

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