MOVIE REVIEW: The Founder

Michael Keaton once again gives us a performance that would make Meryl Streep weep with envy as he plays the businessman who helped create and stole from the original creators the brand that is McDonald’s.  Ray Kroc is the constant businessman, who loves the day-to-day work of selling an idea to people, getting them to believe in the product.  When he meets two brothers with a unique way to sell burgers to people.  He can’t get their business idea out of his head and then takes it on himself to franchise the brand across America.

The McDonald’s brand is one that is known the world over, there are places where this is a five-star restaurant, but enough about inner city Dublin.  I’m guilty of frequenting this place, their breakfasts more than through the day, and during watching the film you want a Big Mac more than anything, until the final scene where you don’t think you’ll eat one of their burgers again.

The two brothers who initially came up with the system and the brand are played by Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch, so just those three performers are reason enough to go see a film.  Keaton, Offerman, and Carroll Lynch have an amazing chemistry together and when things are going well and you know that down the line there are going to be some shady dealings that will tear the business away from the two easy-going guys.

From the start you like Keaton as Ray Kroc, a 50’s businessman who wants to make it big and the film shows that he’s been trying for a long time.  He’s what we call a grafter here in the Emerald Isle, someone who won’t stop until the job is done, and when he meets the two brothers he knows he can add value to their business.  He joins them as the franchise manager and quickly adds more and more venues of the burger chain to their list.  The only problem is that he’s not making money.  Laura Dern plays Krocs long-suffering wife and she’s trying to help him, but he keeps her at arm’s length.  The Brothers won’t move on quality and Ray sees the future as providing the cheaper option with the Milk Shakes being the point of no return between the two parties.

My only problem with this film is the quickness in which Kroc changes from lovable rogue to slimy businessman.  It happens at a beat, you can see it coming too, but there is no ease into it.  One minute he’s a nice guy really wanting this chain to become the greatest thing on the planet and the next he’s treating the woman who stood beside him through the years like crap and is swindling the easy-going brothers.  There should have been more of a change to this evil person he became, the self obsession just happens.  I wanted it to be more of a conflict for him but it just feels like a blink and you’ll miss it moment, almost like Keaton starts to play a different character all together.

These are minor quibbles and even if you believe that the company today is the HQ of food evil, this is a slice of their history presented in a very entertaining way with some stellar performances.  Keaton, well I’d crawl across broken glass to see him in anything, has been that way since the 80’s so I’m not going to change now.  I’ve even forgiven him for Multiplicity and Jack Frost.  Here he follows in the steps of Birdman and Spotlight showing that age is no factor and he is a vintage wine rather than vinegar!  This is worth your cinema dollar.

Director: John Lee Hancock
Writer: Robert D. Siegel (as Robert Siegel)
Stars: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch

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