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Gerald Cooperberg
05-22-2007, 02:37 PM
Just want to give a little shout-out to a film that I think was underrated by many, including myself, in 2006. I watched it on DVD last night and was reminded how much I liked it on first viewing when it played in theaters-- somehow it just got lost in the year-end shuffle, but upon reflection, it was really one of my favorites. The main thing that I like about this picture, like many of director Rick Linklater's earlier films (Dazed & Confused, Before Sunrise), is the way it uses small, personal moments to tell a larger story. Linklater weaves together several story threads covering all sides of the fast-food industry, from the illegal immigrants toiling in meatpacking plants to the corporate suits making the marketing decisions, but it's a credit to his script (co-written with Eric Schlosser, who penned the non-fiction book the movie is based on) and the talented cast assembled that all of the characters seem real and believable. Greg Kinnear turns in some of his best work as a conflicted ad man for a McDonald's-type corporation, and Bobby Canavale and Bruce Willis shine in slick villain roles as a self-hating Latino foreman and an extended cameo as an alpha-male regional manager, respectively. Even the stunt-cast Avril Lavigne turns in a reasonably competent performance. The film seemed to meet with some mixed reviews upon its release and I think that a lot of the negativity centered on what was perceived as its overly pedantic politics, but I feel that a lot of the viewpoints really seemed to belong to the characters rather than any overarching narrative voice. I mean, of course the college students depicted in the film are going to spout over-generalized, slogan-heavy rhetoric and implausible solutions. I think that Linklater and Schlosser do a good job letting each character tell a piece of the story, however colored with their own bias and limited perspective, to paint an overall picture of deregulation, exploitation, and deception that may not have any one sinister, malicious force behind it but is constructed through thousands of tiny, selfish, and desperate decisions. If you can sit through the wordless montage that caps one character's final humiliation near the end of the film without feeling sick to your stomach, well, you're more stoic than I.

I should mention, too, that all subject-matter aside, Linklater once again turns in the unassumingly distinctive visual verve that has become his hallmark and some punchy soundtrack-splicing that would put Cameron Crowe to shame.

Do yourself a favor and check out this film, now available on DVD!


05-22-2007, 06:25 PM
Thanks Coop. Great review. It wasn't on my list of movies to check out, but it is now.