FAST FOOD NATION Written by Eric Schlosser & Richard Linklater Directedby Richard Linklater<br><br>I've tried on a number of occasions to eliminate McDonald's from mydiet. The first time I tried was a few years back, after reading EricSchlosser's non-fiction work, FAST FOOD NATION. I remember going to buyfries for the last time before reading the chapter entitled, "Why theFries Taste so Good." I had to go for that last fry before I couldnever look at them the same way again. I went for months without a BigMac or a Quarter Pounder with cheese but it didn't last. Eventually Isuccumbed to my cravings that persisted despite the time that hadelapsed. I knew what I was doing was wrong but as I bit into my twoall-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions ona sesame seed bun, I conveniently forgot about all the chemicals in themeat, the subliminal advertising geared towards toddlers and themigrant, illegal workers in dangerous meat rendering factories thatmade my burger possible. No sooner had I had my last bite did mystomach twist into a tangled mess. The pain was both horrible andfamiliar. Unfortunately, Richard Linklater's narrative interpretationof Schlosser's novel is nowhere near as nauseating or as a big aturn-off as the feeling of a Big Mac sitting at the bottom of yourstomach.<br><br>The decision to translate FAST FOOD NATION from a non-fiction work ofin-depth investigative journalism into a narrative film is a bold one.I was apprehensive at first but Schlosser's involvement co-writing thescreenplay with Linklater made me less so. Shaping facts into a storycertainly humanizes the global implications of the fast food industrybut if the narrative is not compelling then there isn't much of apoint. FAST FOOD NATION tells different stories to show the wide reachof how many are affected by the fast food industry. Greg Kinnear playsDon Anderson, an advertising executive responsible for The Big One, thelatest burger success at Mickey's, the fictional fast food chain at thecenter of the film. Don must investigate reports that there aresignificant traces of cow manure in the meat (Fun!). Ashley Johnsonplays Amber, a teenage Mickey's employee who juggles school and workwhile she begins to see her role in the corporate machine that iswaiting in her future. Wilmer Valderrama and Catalina Sandino Morenoplay Raul and Sylvia, two Mexican illegal immigrants who have beenbrought into the United States specifically to work at the renderingplant that manufactures the millions of patties that become The BigOne. Very little is revealed about the characters themselves as theyare merely symbols for the bigger picture. Consequently, there is verylittle identification with the film. A film that is trying to telleveryone, "America … this is what you've become," needs the audience tofeel like this is their America.<br><br>What FAST FOOD NATION best exemplifies is America's complacency withthe progression of its society. The problems don't stop at Mickey's.The fast food industry is merely just one faceless industry that isdriving the American people into hopeless futures. Kinnear's Don is aprime example. He has spent his life packaging products, feeding themto people the way they like it. All the while, he has also been feedinghis convenient lies to himself as well. A successful burger comes at acost and as he travels from his board room to the assembly line andbegins speaking with people who don't have any stake in the productionof The Big One, he understands that there are truths under his liesthat he cannot go on ignoring. By the time we see him bite into histhird burger, his apprehension to do so is rampant. Yet, he still takesthat bite. This is what we do. We get fed a ton of information fromdifferent angles. The product pushers tell us how wonderful it is andthe non-believers prove otherwise. Schlosser's book, which clearlydetails all the subtle atrocities the fast food industry unleashes intothe fabric of America to make one more dollar at the expense of itsloyal customers, is well researched and fact-checked. The flip side tothe convenience of fast food, from obesity to the exploitation ofunderage employees, is being discussed by too many people and withincreasing validity to be ignored. Yet millions still take that bite.<br><br>Linklater does not shy away from expressing his disappointment in theAmerican people nor does he mince words about his lack of optimismrelating to making change on the subject. Each character's story isbrought to a close and none of them are any better for any of theirefforts. Some end up exactly where they wanted not to. Some end upcontinuing to support the industry despite their newfound knowledge.All these choices are made to ensure money is still coming in, toensure the American dream is still within reach. Even the youth oftomorrow fail at their attempts to affect the future. The attemptitself does show a trace of Linklater's hope, albeit it fleeting.Despite all this, Linkalter still wants to do his part. The last tenminutes of FAST FOOD NATION bring about some of the more gruesomefootage found in the film. We finally get a tour of the "kill floor" atthe rendering plant, with plenty of blood and dead cow to go around.The nausea comes too late in FAST FOOD NATION but you certainly won'tbe rushing for another burger any time soon.