FAST FOOD NATION (Richard Linklater). 114 minutes. A Fox Searchlight release. Opens Friday (November 17). For venues and times, see Movies, page 107. Rating: NN Rating: NN
After making some fun money movies with School Of Rock and the Bad News Bears remake, Richard Linklater gets deadly serious in this adaptation of the non-fiction book Fast Food Nation.
In the first of its three narrative lines, go-getting young executive Greg Kinnear is assigned to look at unacceptable fecal coliform levels in the beef that his company, a "fictional" fast food chain called Mickey's, is grinding into burgers.
Kinnear is very good, and he gets us to the film's juiciest cameos, Kris Kristofferson as a cranky old rancher and Bruce Willis as Mickey's meat buyer. Willis may be the best drive-by actor in the business - show up for one day and steal the picture.
We also see the struggles of the Mexican illegals working in the slaughterhouse/packing plant. The star here is Catalina Sandino Moreno, from Maria Full Of Grace. Then there's the high school girl who works the counter at Mickey's, who winds up hanging with latent eco-terrorists at the local college.
What's missing here is the lightness and humour that Linklater brings to most of his work. He seems to have forgotten that just because something's serious doesn't mean it can't be funny.
Future rental for the Kristofferson, Willis and Ethan Hawke cameos.