iTunes Movie of the Week: Richard Linklater's FAST FOOD NATION (2006)

Confession time: there is a Wendy's directly below the Fox Searchlight offices, as in, we need to pass by it every day before coming in to work. A Wendy's full of salty french fries, Baconators and salads that we're pretty sure don't really qualify as salads. Of course we've seen FAST FOOD NATION, Richard Linklater's 2007 film (based on the 2001 book by Eric Schlosser), and therefore know about all the icky stuff that goes into making your general 99-cent menu. Including poop. So yeah, fast food is super bad for you, but for some reason that Wendy's continues to torment us, day in, day out. Perhaps a renewed viewing of FAST FOOD NATION is just what we need.


FAST FOOD NATION fictionalizes the the original investigative book, following the storylines of several characters somehow caught up in the fast food industry: a restaurant chain executive (Greg Kinnear), the chain's minimum-wage employees (Paul Dano and Ashley Johnson), immigrants who work in the giant slaughterhouses that provide the chain's meat (Wilmer Valderrama and Catalina Sandino Moreno). It all makes for a very compelling look at what exactly goes into our value meals, especially footage on the factory's "kill floor", where one of the characters end up working. We'll let your imagination do the legwork on that one.


Here's a pretty in-depth interview with Richard Linklater from Mother Jones about the movie, where he drops some serious knowledge about McDonald's and the impact FAST FOOD NATION had on the fast food industry at large:

MJ: What were some of the challenges of making the movie, knowing that the fast food industry had you on its radar?

RL: Well, it’s funny how McDonald’s is like the insecure teenager: They assume the movie is all about them. We were pretty much an underground production, trying to be as low-key as possible to get access. I’ve never made a movie where from the outset we were a target, because of the impact of the book and the enemies it made. It’s amazing what you can get away with in this culture. But when you threaten a huge, powerful corporation, then, man, they really pay attention. I heard that some people who let us film in their businesses are in trouble with their corporate elders.

MJ: Are you seeing a campaign developing against the film?

RL: Yes, but they got outed. McDonald’s leaked its countercampaign last spring. There was a big Wall Street Journal article about it. We all laughed; it was funny how seriously it was taking us. It smartly pulled back, said it wasn’t doing anything. It’s clever about never taking you straight on. It pays shadow organizations to do its dirty work.

And here's the trailer:

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