Eating fast food may impact your waistline, but watching movies about it won’t. Modern fast food is barely 100 years old, but greasy chain restaurants have become touchstones of American culture. Filmmakers continue cooking up classic movies about them, their patrons, and the people who work in them. Here are the best movies about fast food to chow down on, totally guilt-free.
1. Super Size Me
Kicking things off is one of the most popular documentaries ever made, Super Size Me. From Morgan Spurlock, the indie film maverick who wrote, directed, produced, and starred in Super Size Me, this Oscar-nominated film conducts a fascinating (though not quite scientific) food experiment.
Spurlock ate McDonald’s three times a day for thirty days. All outside food was prohibited, and he had to eat everything on the menu at least once. If the restaurant asked if Spurlock wanted to Super Size his order, he had to say yes. And he documented the whole thing.
The results are not exactly surprising, but the visceral experience of watching a man push his arteries to the limit is nonetheless shocking.
2. Fast Food Nation
From School of Rock director Richard Linklater, Fast Food Nation is a dark, satirical exploration of the fast food industry. Its harsh light illuminates every dingy corner of the operation, from the unsanitary meat packing plants, to the grimy teenagers at the grill, to the even grimier executives profiting from it all.
When a top exec at Mickey’s fast food chain finds out there is manure in the meat the company serves, he travels to a packing plant to investigate. From there, everyone involved in getting burgers from cow fields to drive-thrus is inspected.
This politically charged comedy received mixed reviews, but it serves up an all-star cast, including Greg Kinnear, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Paul Dano, Avril Lavigne, Bruce Willis, and Cannavale.
3. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
While some movies exist to criticize fast food, others live to celebrate it. This early aughts stoner comedy tells the story of two down-on-their-luck friends who, after a night of getting blazed on marijuana, set out to satisfy the munchies with White Castle burgers.
Along the way, the friends encounter a ravenous raccoon, medical emergencies, strange sexual propositions, and… Neil Patrick Harris?
Starring John Cho and Kal Penn, with a surprise appearance by a young Ryan Reynolds, Harold and Kumar’s trip to White Castle was a hit with audiences and critics alike. It started a franchise and made its unlikely heroes into fast food movie royalty.
4. The Founder
Starring Michael Keaton, The Founder is the origin story of the mother of all fast food chains, McDonald’s. Keaton plays Ray Kroc, a milkshake machine salesman who dreams of a more efficient fast food restaurant. While on the road in 1954, he discovers McDonald’s.
What follows is the Social Network of fast food movies. Kroc takes McDonald’s from a well-run family operation to the biggest franchise in the industry. But making all that money comes at a cost.
While it wasn’t the Oscar nominee it perhaps set out to be, the film left audiences and critics satisfied. Keaton stars alongside Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, Laura Dern, and B.J. Novak in this dramatic page out of fast food history.
5. Good Burger
“Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger, can I take your order?” This cult classic from Nickelodeon pairs Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell, the star duo from the kids’ sketch comedy series All That, and the sitcom Kenan & Kel.
This family-friendly romp follows a teenage slacker who gets a summer job to pay for damages after taking a car for a joyride. He is hired at Good Burger, where he befriends a wacky co-worker, and the pair team up to take on a rival burger chain that is cooking up a sinister plot.
Good Burger is not the Citizen Kane of fast food movies, but where it fell short with critics, it made up for at the box office. A sequel from Paramount+ is in the works, with its original stars set to return after a years-long falling out.
If you thought fast food was gross on its own, just wait until the staff is finished with it. This raunchy comedy pulls back the curtain on what happens behind the scenes at a restaurant, and it ain’t pretty.
This tell-all about the day-to-day life of restaurant workers shows how people get through the day, entertaining each other with crass games and revolting revenge on rude customers. Through it all, it shows how co-workers bond.
Critics sent Waiting… back to the kitchen, but its look at the service industry still rings true for fans of this cult classic. The all-star staff in Waiting… includes Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, Justin Long, David Koechner, Luis Guzman, and John Francis Daley.
7. Fast Food
Rounding out the list is the wackiest fast food film of them all, and the one with the most straightforward title. Fast Food tells the story of Auggie, a guy who turns his friend’s garage into a burger joint in order to compete with Wrangler Bob Bundy, the fast food tycoon played by the extraordinary Jim Varney. In order to get an edge, the heroes craft a special sauce that drives customers insane… literally.
This low-budget flick is a B-movie wonder that will make you feel like you’ve had a dose of the secret sauce yourself. If you crave a fast food comedy, none will make your head spin quite like Fast Food.