The question on everybody's mind is, "How can they make Fast Food Nation into a movie with Kris Kristofferson and Wilmer Valderrama when the book was such a dense work of investigative journalism?"

"It's just another way to approach the truth," Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser told me. "All forms of writing—fiction, journalism, theater—are valid. Fiction can be a wonderful way of getting at truth, and can be more powerful than nonfiction on the same subject."

Originally Schlosser had no interest in fictionalizing his blockbuster book about the multifaceted ills of the Big Mac industry—until Richard Linklater approached him, wanting to take a crack at dramatizing his research. The result is this funny and poignant movie of the same name, which puts faces to the meatpackers, CEOs, burger joint managers, and "aroma technicians" that Schlosser so thoroughly chronicled in his book.

Using an ensemble cast, Linklater follows these characters' lives as they navigate their own needs, ethics, and dilemmas about the fast food industry. Raul and Sylvia (Valderrama and Catalina Sandino Moreno) cross the border and travel to Colorado, where they find work at a shockingly cruel meatpacking facility. Don (Greg Kinnear) is a marketing rep for the thinly veiled "Mickey's," who's sent into the field to find out why the burgers contain fecal matter. Amber (Ashley Johnson) is a teen who works at Mickey's, but who is beginning to be swayed by the progressive rhetoric spouted by her uncle and some cute college wannabe anarchists. The cast of characters is even broader than this suggests, and I'll suffice it to say that Bruce Willis snatches the whole movie with an inspired cameo. As a dramatic conceit, this works surprisingly well, as the cast (including an ever-awesome Luis Guzmán) turns in terrific performances under Linklater's direction.

Like Fahrenheit 9/11 and An Inconvenient Truth, this is one of those movies that can help shift public consciousness, however subtly, and it demands to be seen. And if it's an engaging and entertaining movie in the process, so much the better.