Sunday, July 08, 2007

You are what you eat.

Last night I elevated my badly sprained?/strained?/infected?/swollen foot/ankle combo meal (that's the #3) and watched Fast Food Nation. I had read the nonfiction book of the same name (which elaborates on the ideas of pooburgers, slaughterhouse inanity, and all-around corporate badness) in the past, and it inspired me to go to McDonalds and eat a double-chee. No negative impression at all.

Fast-forward four years. I'm now a vegetarian. I don't eat anything I don't prepare myself because I'm anal. It's important for you to know this, because I agree with every point the film makes, but I hated the actual movie.

This is kind of like my review of Happy Feet (and probably would be similar to my reviews of Michael Moore movies or Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, were I so moved to see them). The message-mongering is so heavy-handed. We (embodied by the characters of the three main storylines) are good, and they (the fast food corporations) are bad. Good bad good bad bad good bad bad bad good.

It's a difficult task to adapt an investigative report into a film, and for this very reason. The literature is written to evoke a change or a sentiment without regards to depth of characterization or any particular storyline. The movie maintains that mentality, and as a result becomes incredibly boring. More interesting is the route it takes. The screenwriters make one plotline's "voice of reason" spout manifestos about creating chaos and bringing down the man through a sort of revolution.

The three main storylines involve a group of illegal Mexican immigrants hired at a meat packing plant, a fast-food advertising stooge charged to investigate said factory, and a young girl who works at the town's branch of the restaurant chain.

The direction is adequate, and the acting is superb with no exceptions. Bruce Willis and Greg Kinnear are the real stars of this picture in spite of their small amounts of screen time. Their segment involves an actual member of the fictional company--"Mickey's"--who is investigating the meat packing plant for home office. This is, by far, the most interesting segment of the film. The two actors take the only juicy roles in the film (moral gray area? thank god) and run with it. Other stellar performances include Ethan Hawke, Ashley Johnson (Baby Seaver), Catalina Sandino Moreno, and Bobby Cannavale.

It's just a shame the script had to be so pushy.


Matt said...

Fast Food Nation came and went before I could see it. Do you recommend the book instead?

Mike Spoodles said...

I'm not sure if I'd recommend either the book or the movie. Neither brings anything particularly new to the table. The book confirms everything that pretty much everybody had already suspected about the big fast-food chains. The movie has powerful acting, but it's dampered by the fact that it comes off as an ad for PETA.

If you're looking to be enlightened on the subject, I guess I would recommend the book. If you're looking to be entertained, I'd recommend Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me instead.