... like, ew, man. Totally gross. And I don't just mean the end part where they slice up cows and show their stony eyes in their disembodied heads and slide their insides down a metal chute. Or even the part where Paul Dano spits in the burger he's making up for Greg Kinnear (incidentally, my audience seemed surprised at this- why? I thought everyone knew about this practice, or at least the mythical idea of it.). But Fast Food Nation isn't just about fast food, it's about consumerism, man- at one point the hotel clerk at Kinnear's hotel recites a robotic round of questions at him and doesn't even blink at his sudden snap of rudeness. The world has become a machine, is what Linklater is saying, a factory line of crap, both literally and figuratively. Ashley Johnson's character goes out for a meal with her uncle Ethan Hawke and seems quietly impressed with his remarks about how those who followed their dreams- whether successful or not- are generally happier when they look back on their lives. When did the world become so money-orientated? Johnson's mother (Patricia Arquette) swipes away her brother as a role model, but really, this is exactly who Johnson should be listening to- follow your dreams, your heart, not society's conventions of job-marriage-children. Fast Food Nation sings an age-old message- money don't make you happy- but it seems that more than ever people need to be told this message.
Oh, and one other thing about Fast Food Nation, the engrossing and imperfect film that it is: I don't think, as some idiots at IMDb (for as we all know, the IMDb messageboards are generally populated by idiots) seem to believe, that Fast Food Nation is preaching a vegetarian message (or vegan, as the idiots say- where did vegetarianism go?). I am a vegetarian, not through choice but through parentage, and while, yes, the final images of the film are indeed disgusting, I think that Linklater is simply presenting a case against fast food and the way it's produced as opposed to meat altogether. Although he IS a vegetarian himself, so maybe I'm wrong. Anyway.