Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Netflix Review: Fast Food Nation (2006)

Misplaced Beef!

Fast Food Nation
Suggested Netflix Queue Position: 47

I’ll try not to turn this review into social commentary, but Fast Food Nation doesn’t leave you much choice. This is a blatant, if misguided, attack on the Fast Food Industry.

This movie should have been called “Sexual Harassment in the Meat Packing Workplace,” because that’s ultimately the subject on which the film focuses.

Greg Kinnear plays Don Anderson, Marketing Executive for Mickey’s, a not-so-subtle jab at McDonald’s, of course. Anderson has made a name for himself by creating and branding “The Big One”, a large hamburger. But trouble arises when Anderson is notified that unexpectedly high levels of contamination are finding its way into the meat. He must go to the Colorado plant of the meat supplier to investigate.

What begins as an investigation by Anderson, however, wanders into a portrait of life as an employee of a small-town meat packing company. A corrupt supervisor at the meat plant sexually harasses (and assaults) his female workers. The workers at the plant, illegal immigrants from Mexico, can hardly fight back since their resident status – not to mention income – would be jeopardized.

A teenage employee at Mickey’s ponders her future as a group of her friends protests the treatment of cows at the plant. Meanwhile, Anderson is led around the plant and a local ranch in search of answers to the contamination issue, which are cryptically offered by local ranch hands and middlemen in a web of hearsay.

If Director Richard Linklater (Bad News Bears) was trying to expose the fast food industry, he should have stuck to the FAST FOOD INDUSTRY. Aside from the scenes where teenage employees at Mickey’s complain about wages, the movie doesn’t have much to do with fast food, which doesn’t serve as much of an indictment.

I wouldn’t be too concerned about this film were I an executive of a fast food chain. How is McDonald’s responsible for illegal behavior by supervisory staff at their meat suppliers? As for the disgruntled teenage employees at these fast food chains, why don’t they find another place to work? I’m sure the Gap is hiring. Hell, one character even rants about the plethora of retail stores new to the area.

This all, of course, stems from the fact that people are upset with the unhealthy crap being served up by fast food chains. So even a feeble expose such as this seems misplaced, if not unwarranted. Further, since ‘Super Size Me’ cornered the market on the unhealthy face of this industry, what’s left is this vague and peripheral portrait. What both films ignore is that, if fast food so unhealthy, then EAT SOMEPLACE ELSE. No one is holding a gun to the heads of the general public.

As for Fast Food Nation, far more relevant would have been Mickey’s reaction to the contamination concerns. Did they ignore the signals? Will they change suppliers? We never find out – and it should come as no surprise that the big bad corporation doesn’t get the chance to defend itself here. Then again, facing such a weak attack, they really don’t have to.

1 comment:

patrick said...

just watched Fast Food Nation, it's an impactful flick to say the least... earlier today i passed up a sausage mcmuffin because of it.