Monday, May 07, 2007

Fast Food Nation and Year of the Dog

I saw two very different yet thematically linked movies this weekend: "Fast Food Nation" on DVD and "Year of the Dog" in the theater. Each explores issues of animal cruelty and the dark side of food production in its own way. In "Fast Food Nation," we follow the path of a "Micky's" hamburger patty from its bun-and-condiment-dressed end in a colorful cardboard container all the way back to the bullet striking a dazed cow between the eyes. In between, we have undocumented Mexican labor, sex for drugs and employment, a group of college campus protesters bewildered by the noncooperation of the animals they try to save, and Greg Kinnear obliviously chowing down a burger topped with the spit of a disgruntled fry cook. And Bruce Willis with weird shit going on with his head (moles? age spots? scars from shaving?) in a scene that I still don't think I understand (except that he is a bad guy.) Lesson learned: it's not uncommon for intestines to be punctured during their removal in the gutting process, (although it's more likely when the workers are pressured to work too quickly), and this means that partially decomposed food (i.e., shit) can easily contaminate the raw flesh that becomes meat. Oh, and Avril Lavigne? Not annoying in this movie.

(I like her new single; it has the fun happy pop sound that you want to start off your summer. But I hate the video for it, in which Avril plays three girls competing for the same guy. (I almost wrote "women" but she is, at least in this, playing mere girls.) Amazingly, the girl who offs her competitors by hitting them in the head with a miniature golf ball (hysterical!) and knocking them into a pool (comic gold!) is the one who gets the guy. Yay! Go, bitch! Love to see the bully win. Thank god the guy doesn't have a brain or he might chose differently.)

Where was I? Oh, "Fast Food Nation" is a good movie, if somewhat preachy. But with the subject matter, how could it not be? I can't say it made me stop eating meat (since I already don't) nor does it make me think less of fast food restaurants (I can't think less of them), so I'm the choir. And it was fun to see Bobby Cannavale ("Station Agent," "Happy Endings," and Will's boyfriend on "Will and Grace") play a bad guy. (A hot bad guy. Naturally.) But this isn't a DVD you pop in to watch while eating.

"Year of the Dog" is the first movie directed by Mike White, who wrote "Chuck and Buck," "The Good Girl," "School of Rock," and "Nacho Libre." The twisted yet painfully innocent sense of humor from "Chuck and Buck" is in full force here, with Molly Shannon as a single woman who loses her best friend, her beagle, in a sudden accident. Her journey to live with her grief is hilarious and touching, with an interesting spin: she gradually becomes more and more entrenched in the world of anti-animal cruelty activism, until she's clearly off the deep end. Or is she? Luckily we're not forced to take sides; you can agree that the character has gone too far, but you have to admire her dedication to what she loves. It's a good turn for Shannon, plus there's Peter Sarsgaard as a vet hospital employee and John C. Reilly as a hunting-happy neighbor. (Don't assume you know which is the good guy and which the bad. In this movie the unsympathetic earn our understanding and the righteous our pity.)


Blogger Patrick Roberts said...

just watched Fast Food Nation, it's an impactful flick to say the least... earlier today i passed up a sausage mcmuffin because of it. Evidently it is worth passing up fast food for more than health reasons.

4:24 AM  
Blogger medusa said...

A perfect double bill would be to pair it with "Supersize Me," Morgan Spurlock's experiment with eating only at "McDonalds" for a month. Just in case you needed reminding about the health issues!

8:07 AM  

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