Summary Judgment: 'Fast Food Nation', 'Casino Royale' Slate contributor Mark Jordan Legan offers a roundup of what movie critics are saying about the weekend's releases, including the political satire Fast Food Nation, the animated Happy Feet, and the latest James Bond thriller, Casino Royale.
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Summary Judgment: 'Fast Food Nation', 'Casino Royale'

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Summary Judgment: 'Fast Food Nation', 'Casino Royale'

Summary Judgment: 'Fast Food Nation', 'Casino Royale'

Summary Judgment: 'Fast Food Nation', 'Casino Royale'

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Slate contributor Mark Jordan Legan offers a roundup of what movie critics are saying about the weekend's releases, including the political satire Fast Food Nation, the animated Happy Feet, and the latest James Bond thriller, Casino Royale.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

The new James Bond movie is among the films covered in this week's digest of what the critics are saying. It's compiled as always by the online magazine Slate.

Here is Mark Jordan Legan with Summary Judgment.

Mr. MARK JORDAN LEGAN (Slate): Before any of you go grab a fast food cheeseburger today, you may want to check out Fast Food Nation. Opening in limited release, this dramatization of the bestselling non-fiction book, takes us into the frightening world where the quick, deep fried, All-American meal is assembled. Greg Kinnear and Ethan Hawke star.

(Soundbite of movie "Fast Food Nation")

Unidentified Man (Actor): (As character) Couple of his grad students decided to culture some patties from a bunch of fast food chains. They got a hold of a couple of big ones. And the fecal coliform counts were just off the charts.

Mr. LEGAN: The nation's critics wonder if you want fries with that? Just like fast food itself, some love it, others don't. The Hollywood Reporter finds Fast Food Nation punchless. But the Christian Science Monitor calls it a sensitive and humane piece of work. And Rolling Stone bubbles, it's less an exposé of junk food culture than a human drama, sprinkled with sly provoking wit.

And for those of you who wished March of the Penguins had some dance numbers, you should love Happy Feet. This wide-release, computer animated, family comedy comes from the same creative team that brought us Babe, and focuses on a tone deaf, tap dancing penguin who is determined to be himself no matter what anyone else thinks. Hugh Jackman, Robin Williams, and Nicole Kidman provide some of the vocal talent.

(Soundbite of film "Happy Feet")

Mr. ROBIN WILLIAMS (Actor): (As Lovelace) This, Ramon, is my sacred talisman. Bestowed on me by the mystic of the age during my epic journal of enlightenment.

Mr. LEGAN: The critics feel like dancing along with this frozen treat. Terrific fun, shouts the Hollywood Reporter. The Chicago Tribune raves, It's craftsmanship and ambitions put it a continent ahead of nearly every other animated feature of the last couple years. And Variety thinks Happy Feet is one of the very best directed animated films on record. The attention to detail is phenomenal. The humor, ample.

And we close with the long awaited return of Bond, James Bond, in the wide-released Casino Royale. Based on the very first Bond novel Ian Fleming ever wrote, the story examines the dark, rough beginnings of this famous secret agent. Daniel Craig stars.

(Soundbite of movie "Casino Royale")

Ms. JUDI DENCH (Actress): (As M): Thanks to your over-developed trigger finger, we have no idea who hired him or why. And how the hell did you find out where I lived?

Mr. DANIEL CRAIG (Actor): (As James Bond): Same way I found out your name. I thought M was a randomly assigned letter. I had no idea it stood for...

Ms. DENCH: (As M): Utter one more syllable and I'll have you killed. I knew it was too early to promote you.

Mr. LEGAN: The critics rave about Casino Royale and praise the much-debated casting choice of Daniel Craig. The New York Daily News cuts right to the chase and declares, Daniel Craig is the best Bond since Sean Connery. The Seattle Post Intelligencer cheers, Flat out one of the best Bond movies ever. And Rolling Stone adds, Craig gives us James Bond in the fascinating act of inventing himself. This you do not want to miss.

Now, much was made of the worldwide casting search for the next Bond and the studio truly did search everywhere. They even looked here at NPR, but Alex Chadwick wanted script approval. And apparently I was out of the running because they insisted 007 shouldn't be addicted to barbecue potato chips and get winded after taking a flight of stairs.

I mean Bond being in shape is so old school.

CHADWICK: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer living in Los Angeles.

(Soundbite of James Bond theme)

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