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Make Sure to Catch the Smart, Thought-Provoking, Insightful Film "Fast Food Nation"

Posted Dec 18 2008 8:11pm

Planning on grabbing a quick bite this weekend at the nearest fast-food joint? Before you become one of four Americans who daily wolf down a burger, fries, soda or other quickie foods, go get entertained and educated first by catching the smart, provocative celebrity-filled flick Fast Food Nation, which hits selected theaters nationwide today.

A fictionalized account of the absolutely fabulous bestselling 2001 book, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All American Meal from the talented, muckracking journalist Eric Schlosser, the movie is smart, provocative, worth viewing whether or not fast foods regularly beckon you.

So I discovered at an advance screening and special event/press conference sponsored by the New York Coalition for Healthy School Lunches, which, as its name implies, is dedicated to improving school foods and helping kids develop heatlhy eating habits.

Again, let me repeat: You simply must see this well-done movie "Fast Food Nation," which is brilliantly directed by Richard Linklater.

But be prepared: This isn't a mind-numbing, escapist piece of cinema full of nonsensical, gratuitous violence.

Rather, this film -- which is basically an ensemble drama featuring wonderful roles for such talented actors as Greg Kinnear, Patricia Arquette, Luis Guzman, Ethan Hawke, Avril Lavigne, Kris Kristofferson, Bruce Willis, Bobby Cannavale and Esai Morales -- really gets you thinking. In fact, the tag line for the flick is "The truth is hard to swallow."

Put it this way: Minutes into "Fast Food Nation," you learn -- as does new marketing hot-shot Don Anderson (Kinnear) for the fictional Mickey's Fast Food chain -- that the best-selling "Big One" burgers are full of manure. Seriously. (Get ready for some nightmarish, shocking movie moments.)

From there on in, you join Don on his investigation into ranches, slaughterhouses, and cookie-cutter strip malls in Cody, Colorado, where he seeks to uncover the sordid, shocking truth as to how the heck &%#$ could make its way into the frozen patties.

Meanwhile, you're also taken on a journey, along with sympathetic Mexicans, into illegally crossing over the border into the U.S. to get less-than-humane, but well-paying work ($10/an-hour) at meatpacking plants to get those poor cows burger-ready.

Even if you don't have time, you need to make some to see this film. I did.

Indeed, despite my hectic schedule doing media and lots of promotion stuff for my upcoming book SUGAR SHOCK!, I just had to catch this advance screening, press conference and panel discussion with top authors.

It was so cool! More idols of mine were there, too. In addition to the film's creators, Eric and Richard, we got to hear from the truth-seeking nutritionist Marion Nestle (author of Food Politics, etc.), who I've written about previously and who I interviewed for my book; public health attorney Michelle Simon ( Appetite for Profit ), who I also chatted with; T. Colin Campbell ( The China Study ); and bestselling author Anna Lappe ( Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen.) (I took a photo to show you, but at the very last minute, someone stepped in front of my camera not once, but twice. Oh well.)

Anyhow, whether or not you catch the movie (which I think you should), you still need to read (if you haven't already) Eric's brilliant investigation, Fast Food Nation.

Eric Schlosser: Fast Food Nation

More later when I have a moment.

To get in the mood, watch a Fast Food Nation trailer and see this quick take, "Americans spend more on fast food than anything else combined."

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