Do you want lies with that?
There are huge lies behind the industrial food chain and the movie Fast Food Nation (adapted from a book of the same title by Eric Schlosser) does its best to expose them. .
Spoiler Warning : There will be blood. Yes, I know that is the name of a movie
currently playing in theatres about the simultaneous rise of the Southern Evangelic movements the ruthlessly ambitious careers of oil barrens. But where as the blood in There Will be Blood is mostly metaphorical, the blood at the end of Fast Food Nation is more frighting and appalling that all the Freddie Crouger movies combined.
Typically movies that are derivatives of non-fiction books are more likely to develop into documentaries, so I was wary when I heard that Fast Food Nation was a drama. In some ways this book may have been served better in documentary format; however, for the most part the simultaneous rise of 4 or so loosely interconnect stories that are inter-cut to unwrapped the various aspects of the meat packing and fast food industries are informative if not exactly entertaining. The plots of each individual story lines are often too chocked full of the meaty details of the current American industrial food chain to be able to emotionally invest in the lives of the characters or be completely swept up into the movie itself. And yet, it is still worth the renting.
The issues raised in the movie about America's Fast Food culture are some of the most challenging and ignored troubles facing our nation today. I have yet to hear any of the leading presidential candidates call for a reform of the meat harvesting practices currently occurring throughout the world in order to feed America's "Where's the Beef" appetites. Illegal immigration is, however, a topic that has come up regularly in several of the Republican and Democratic debates. Occasionally, a candidate will say, 'illegal immigration will never be eliminated because there are certain jobs that Americans refuse to do at the current pay scale that is offered. ' This always gave me mental pictures of migrate farm workers slaving in the sun working on their hands and knees to harvest blueberries. As it turns out, there are even worse jobs in the industrial food chain that illegal immigrants are often hired to do - like hosing down the Killing Floor of a slaughter house.
Fast Food Nation tries to highlight this aspect of the fast food culture in one of the subplots which traces the fate of several newly arrived Mexicans who are recruited to work in an industrial meat packing plant.I found this subplot to be most compelling possibly because it was presented in Spanish with English subtitles and therefore I was too busy reading to notice the less than compelling acting and direction.
In the end, you are probably better off just reading Mr. Schlosser's book, as the movie is not exactly entertaining. That said, the stomach turning final scene of the movie which takes the viewer on a realistic tour of the meat packing plant's Killing Floor is something that all industrial meat eating Americans should be forced to see. The main tension of all the subplots hinge on the constant foreboding references to the "Killing Floor" and even though I knew it was going to be bad - nothing prepared me for just how bloody, violent, brutal, and unsanitary this tour would be. So, if you have strong stomach and want to see where your Big Mac comes from rent the DVD and fast-forward to the last 5 mins of the movie, then be prepared to never look at a cow the same way again.