"An ensemble piece examining the health risks involved in the fast food industry and its environmental and social consequences as well."
Richard Linklater is one of the most interesting directors working right now. He goes up there with Soderbergh as directors who try to get the biggest bite from every single personal project they do. The problem always comes with the question of "Can they chew it?"
They also both try to do big mainstream success' in order to try and fund these personal projects. The thing that is sad is that most of the time these personal projects fail to deliver the ambitiousness that they promised. I have learned to not trust Soderbergh all that much and I have learned to trust Linklater a lot more. Fast Food Nation falls into Linklater's personal projects, but it sadly doesn't deliver like his other more personal work.
Fast Food Nation is one of those films that you just can't pinpoint where it went wrong. I don't agree with most critics and film geeks who hated it. I felt it had enough good things going for it to not make it a waste of time. Still though, I just can't praise as much as I would like to. The main thing that the film has that I had problems with was it's multiple storylines. 1 storyline is genius and great: Greg Kinnear as a fast food executive finding out why the new beef patties are filled with cow shit. The 2nd storyline is pretty good: Mexican immigrants working at a slaughterhouse. The problem is the 3rd storyline: a teen who works for a fast food place who starts becoming a rebel.
The problem with the 3rd storyline is that it lacks any of the seriousness that makes the first 2 storylines intriguing. This one just comes off as a filler story and doesn't really add that much depth to the film . Unless if you consider the basic message of "Fast Food places suck!" depth. There is also more time wasted with a kooky crazy rebel uncle than there is with the actual "protesting" of the fast food company. It also doesn't help that there is more time wasted with this plot than there is with the great plot dealing with Kinear.
The only other problem I had with the film was it's "ohhhhhhhh...." type of script. There are plenty of scenes in this film that end with a line or two that are supposed to leave the audience stunned and in deep thought. It fails at both and just comes off as forced writing. The ending to the film made me cringe and also came off as a "ohhhhh....how brilliant!" type of ending. It's just too self conscious and you can't help but think that Linklater thought that he had the greatest ending ever.
However, the moments leading up to the ending are brilliant. The final sequence in the film is brutal and adds a very serious and shocking end to the film. I wish the film would have ended right here instead.
Fast Food Nation is far from the great film it thinks it is. It's very ambitious and means well but comes off a little bit too much of an idea that was not as brilliantly executed as it could have been. Still though, it's a good film and is intriguing enough to keep you interested until the end.