Fast Food Nation DVD Review: Super-Size your knowledge.
In 1906, Upton Sinclair felt it was his duty to reveal to the world the secrets of the meat packing industry. His book, The Jungle, told the story of unsafe meat products and accidental deaths and everything else corporate America was hiding from the public at the turn of the century. Ninety-five years later, an eye opening Fast Food Nation (what some people call a modernization of Sinclair’s expose) hits bookstore shelves. This all comes full circle when the lack of creativity in Hollywood propels an independent adaptation of this book, making the rounds at various film festivals and eventually ending up in my DVD player. I never read the book personally, but an all-star ensemble of Oscar-nominated actors and familiar faces helped me understand what isn’t necessarily common knowledge to anyone not already in the burger chain ‘loop’.
Fahrenheit 9/11 made some people vote Democrat. An Inconvenient Truth might have sold a few hybrid cars. Fast Food Nation should definitely slow some Big Mac sales. I don’t regularly eat fast food. Maybe a few nights in a year at 3am when nothing else is open, I’ll grab something quick. I always hate myself in the morning for doing so. Now that I’ve watched Fast Food Nation, those ‘few nights a year’ are turning in ‘never ever again’.
Fast Food Nation tells the story of three facets of the “You want fries with that?” industry. First is the meat packing plant that almost exclusively employs illegal immigrants, specifically Sylvia (Maria Full Of Grace‘s Catalina Sandino Moreno) and her husband Raul (Wilmer Valderrama). The unfair pay, the dangerous jobs, and the excess of drugs make the American dream a little less dreamy. Sylvia has to decide what’s better for her and her husband while trying to stay afloat in her new country. Second are the locals, ranging from restaurant employees to the environmentally conscious students at the university. Amber (Ashley Johnson) and her family want more for herself than to be a cashier at the local burger joint. Hanging out with the older college kids may be just what she needs to realize the machine that she is working for is not only holding her back, its having a negative effect on her hometown’s ecosystem. Lastly are the executive offices of the burger shilling restaurants themselves. Don Henderson (Greg Kinnear) is the Head Of Marketing at his company. He is in charge of making the new value meals and tasty new burger flavors seem worth your few bucks here and there. One afternoon, his boss gives him an assignment to go take a tour of their source of beef and discover why…well, I’m not going to give that away. Let’s just say he discovers some unappetizing truths about his company.
As a warning, some images in this film arenâ€™t for the faint of heart or the weak stomach. ‘Disturbing images’ is definitely an understatement. I believe it’s still worth viewing.