Let me begin by confessing that I was ignorant of the content of Eric Schlosser's book Fast Food Nation upon which this film is based. Because of that ignorance, I thought I was renting one of those silly movies about teens working in a fast food restaurant. I guess I was misled because NetFlix classifies this film as a comedy, but in their defense, I noticed on another Fox Searchlight DVD that Fast Food Nation is listed in the previews section entitled "Other Comedies from Fox Searchlight." It definitely is not a comedy but instead, a sobering look at a number of disturbing aspects of big business in the United States.
The film plays out as a series of extremely well acted character vignettes that serve to expose the factual information gathered by Schlosser for his book.
The story focuses on three different groups of people who are all connected through a huge slaughter and meatpacking facility that provides meat for a McDonald-like fast food chain.
Corporate headquarters is represented by an executive (Greg Kinnear) who is sent to investigate why fecal matter is showing up in the meat. He receives some insight into the whole operation helped by Kris Kristofferson who plays a concerned local rancher and the man who is in charge of obtaining the meat at the best prices beautifully portrayed by Bruce Willis.
The restaurant workers and their families reveal the mine deadening complacency of the general population of employees who populate the restaurants. The one who comes to realize that there is something tragically wrong with the whole process is looked upon as an oddity - especially by her manager who cannot understand why she doesn't want to pursue a career in the business.
The most tragic and insightful view in the film is the look at the illegal workers who come from Mexico to work in the meat packing factory. Because of their illegal status, they are taken advantage of all the way from the manager who openly lusts after every attractive woman to the corporation managers who deny injured workers of any rights.
This is really a good movie. Not only is it well acted and produced, but in addition, it invokes thought and reflection as to many ills we face in today's world.