The great expose of the meat-packing industry was Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," his 1906 muckraking novel that shocked a nation and led to stricter federal controls over food safety. Eric Schlosser's 2001 "Fast Food Nation" not only confirmed that many meat safety issues remain unsolved but portrayed a country so addicted to grab-and-eat junk food that a fifth of its adolescents are obese and major health issues abound. Which is why Richard Linklater's curious attempt to make a narrative feature from that nonfiction book is so disappointing. Following up on Morgan Spurlock's wildly successful indie film "Super Size Me," critics of fast food were hoping that a one-two punch would further raise consciousness among consumers and purveyors alike. Alas, "Fast Food Nation" is punchless. . .
. . . If Linklater regards the fake culture that has replaced real places with horror, he has nothing but respect and affection for his characters, and the movie is rescued from nihilism by his humanistic view. Linklater defines his characters by their relationships, hopes, choices and weaknesses — not, as so many directors do, by their particular socioeconomic circumstances. . .
Fast Food Nation as a 60% Cream of the Crop rating on rottentomatoes.com