A marketing executive, a cashier and an illegal immigrant all suffer through employment by Mickey's, a corporate burger chain. Greg Kinnear, Wilmer Valderrama and Ashley Johnson and Catalina Sandino Moreno star, and Bruce Willis, Ethan Hawke and Avril Lavigne make brief appearances.
Big question: Can writers Eric Schlosser and Richard Linklater (who also directed) turn Schlosser's non-fiction book into a character-driven drama?
Skip it: Did you know that corporate America is driven by cash? Or that fast food is poorly processed? Or that illegal workers may be untrained for unglamorous jobs? And that Lavigne can't act? Only if this seems like big news will you eat up what "Fast Food Nation" has on the menu.
Catch it: If you want to be steered away from cheap burgers. Shots of cows succumbing to the "killing floor" may turn you vegan.
Bottom line: The characters rarely escape stereotypes, and "Fast Food Nation" is about as timely as "Fahrenheit 9/11" would have been if it were released in 2025. Linklater ("The School of Rock," "Before Sunrise," "Dazed and Confused") has long been an expert at finding nuance in familiar territory; in his latest, all creativity is devoured by the obvious.
Bonus: Do you hate your job? Be glad you don't "pull kidneys" off of dead animals for a living. Double ick.
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
'Fast Food Nation'
Directed by Richard Linklater; screenplay by Eric Schlosser and Linklater, based on Schlosser's book; cinematography by Lee Daniel; edited by Sandra Adair; production design by Bruce Curtis; music by Friends of Dean Martinez; produced by Jeremy Thomas and Malcolm McLaren. A Fox Searchlight Pictures release. Running time: 1:46. MPAA rating: R (disturbing images, strong sexuality, language and drug content).
Don -- Greg Kinnear
Amber -- Ashley Johnson
Tony -- Esai Morales
Cindy -- Patricia Arquette
Sylvia -- Catalina Sandino Moreno
Mike -- Bobby Cannavale
Pete -- Ethan HawkeCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times