Excuse me while I barf. Richard Linklater’s dramatic adaptation of Eric Schlosser’s muckraking bestseller plays like Traffic with hamburgers instead of cocaine. The story, such as it is, looks at the problem of mass-produced, mass-marketed food from the point of view of a legion of characters, from the marketing guys in the boardrooms to the franchise owners, burger-flipping youths, local wanna-be eco terrorists and the immigrant workers who clean the killing floor. It’s the kind of multi-faceted thing that John Sayles excels at, but Linklater’s approach feels less rigid, more off-the-cuff, baggier, talkier. The cast is outstanding: Greg Kinnear, Ethan Hawke, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Kris Kristofferson, Luis Guzman, Patricia Arquette, Ashley Johnson, Avril Lavigne, etc etc. It would be a great line-up for a party, and it’s too bad that the topic dictates that the movie should be a bummer in the end–dinner’s canceled while I try to get those images out of my head. (Fast Food Nation would make for a vomitous double feature with Our Daily Bread.) Looks like I’ll be talking to Linklater on Thursday, so let me know if you have a question you’ve always wanted to ask the man.

Fast Food Nation. Richard Linklater, 2006. ***

[tags]richard linklater, film, 3 stars, catalina sandino moreno, greg kinnear, ethan hawke, avril lavigne, john sayles, fast food, eric schlosser, hamburgers, beef, food[/tags]