Fast Food Nation — the movie!

Bizarre. Apparently Richard Linklater is planning to direct a “fictionalized thriller” based on Eric Schlosser’s popular and extremely well-written bit of muckraking journalism Fast Food Nation, starring Maria Full of Grace‘s Catalina Sandino Moreno. (Maybe she’ll smuggle a burger inside her stomach this time.)

Why a “fictionalized thriller”, I wonder? Schlosser told some very interesting and even poignant stories that were all based on people he had interviewed, so it’s not like the source material is hurting for narrative content. I do trust Linklater’s instincts more often than not — his edgier, more independent stuff is generally interesting at least, and even his more mainstream stuff like School of Rock is pretty good — but I’m not sure how this particular project could work.

It does make me wonder what other fictional films have been based on works of non-fiction like this, though.

FWIW, I read Schlosser’s book last summer while bussing back from the Cornerstone music festival. I had reviewed Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me a few months before and had heard a fair bit about the book as a result, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the book and film had almost nothing in common, apart from a general antipathy towards McDonald’s and the like and a shared concern over how corporations impress themselves upon children through their advertising and their mascots, etc. My impression was that Spurlock’s film was largely about personal health, whereas Schlosser’s book was largely about business practices; they complement each other well.

ADDENDUM: My wife just reminded me that last year’s Mean Girls was similarly based on the non-fiction Rosalind Wiseman book Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence.

Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex… was also based on a non-fiction book, but it doesn’t have a central narrative, the way these other two films do; it’s more like a collection of sketches inspired by different parts of the book.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his award-winning film column for that paper, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He has also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005) and The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and Its Reception in Film (De Gruyter, 2016).

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    >>(Maybe she’ll smuggle a burger inside her stomach this time.)

    LOL!!! It could become a franchise!!

  • Anonymous

    I believe that last year’s “Mean Girls” was based off of the non-fiction treatise “Queen Bees and Wannabes.” That’s one off the top of my head.


  • Peter T Chattaway

    Whoa, Nick, that was practically a tie!

  • patrick

    Fast Food Nation is an impactful movie indeed… just today i passed up a sausage mcmuffin because of it. It’s obviously worth passing up fast food for more than health reasons.