Fast Food Nation

Filmmakers adapt movies from books all the time. But creating a drama from an industry exposé? That takes cojones the size of a bull’s—about the only part you won’t see processed in Fast Food Nation. Director Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise, Dazed and Confused) teamed up with Eric Schlosser to spin Schlosser’s book into a narrative, with a meat-packing plant at the center. A marketing executive from Mickey’s—not to be confused with McDonald’s—learns there may be tainted meat in “The Big Ones.” He heads to a Colorado town where undocumented immigrants, put-upon ranchers, indifferent overseers and slick corporations all intersect. The film got mixed reviews—deservedly so. What makes the DVD worthwhile are the extras. Manufacturing Fast Food Nation shows the surprising access Linklater’s crew got in a slaughterhouse, and the effect it had on the cast. Amusing animated shorts—The Meatrix trilogy and The Backwards Hamburger—reinforce the “woe is meat” message. Fast Food Nation is better as a book (the eye-opening chapter about “flavor factories” and their taste-imparting chemicals gets only passing treatment on film). Still, this is a disc worth renting—just don’t hit a drive-thru on the way home.