Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Movie Review: Fast Food Nation.

This movie is much like the burgers it attacks: a mishmash.

This film could have been a documentary, a comedy, or political satire. It wasn't really any.

It took a nonfiction book indicting the fast food industry, and then fictionalized it into a heavy, pedantic drama. In the translation, much was lost.

In crafting the drama, the filmmakers tried an approach, much like in Traffic, where several stories are woven to create a tapestry. Unfortunately, an unfinished rug emerged. Some strands were seemingly abandoned, loose ends were left loose, and others were included for no apparent purpose.

Another squandering of promise came with regard to the casting. The film had many big-name stars, including Bruce Willis (small role), Greg Kinnear, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Wilmer Valderrama, Luis Guzman, Kris Kristofferson, and the youngest child actor from Growing Pains. Yes, she got another role, and played it respectably.

Given the politicized material, I was hoping for something clever like Thank You for Smoking--my favorite film of last year. Instead, the movie took a straightforward approach, much like delivering a homily--without the comedy or colorful illustrations.

Nevertheless, Fast Food Nation delivers its message. When it shows the disturbing "kill floor" of a slaughterhouse, it is hard to miss its point. Again, that's part of its weakness--no subtlety.

Fast Food Nation receives a "C".