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Movie Review: Fast Food Nation

This weekend, we watched Fast Food Nation on DVD.  Based on a book of the same name, the basic plot of the movie centers around a fictional fast food restaurant, Mickey’s, and the issue of how “shit” got into the meat.   Don Anderson (Greg Kinnear), a marketing executive for Mickey’s, is given the job of traveling to the meat packing plant and investigating how this could have happened.  What he discovers is the nastiness that is the basis of a lot of fast food- both in the meals themselves and the industry. 

A few parallel story lines run through the movie, from the employment and treatment of illegal Mexican immigrants and other fast food workers, to corporate interests and animal activism. A warning is that the movie is graphic at times, and even though the question of “how the shit got into the meat” is not answered visually, you can use your imagination based on the description given. 

Throughout the movie, a number of famous faces show up, including Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Avril Lavigne and Bruce Willis, but it is the commentary the movie makes on where fast food has brought us that is the most interesting.  You are left with a sense of questioning, and how the meat was contaminated is the least of them.  How did we get here?  What happens now?  How did the hope “for something better” turn into this? 

I will admit that I haven’t read the book, so I can’t comment on what may have been lost or embellished for the big screen.  What I can say is that this movie is worth a watch.  It is an entertaining and sadly true commentary that showcases how dirty an industry can become no matter how many smiling characters they invent to represent them. 

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