The Founder tells the story of Ray Kroc, and how he takes the ideas and work of two brothers, and turns it into the McDonald’s empire of today. It’s told as a parable of the sins of capitalism, but how does that work when the bad guy wins?
The original McDonald’s was created by Dick and Mac McDonald as an anti-drive-in. They hated the surly, seedy crowds, high overhead for wait staff, and slow food deliver time associated with traditional drive-ins. They invented a faster system and named it Speedy Service. The restaurant was such a huge success that it caught the eye of floundering salesman Ray Kroc. He convinced them to franchise and became partners with him. Kroc doesn’t make his fortune until he meets another business man who realizes that he could be making a lot more if he sold the land that the franchises sit on. Long synopsis short, his ideas weren’t his own, he just had the hutzpah to put other people with ideas on his team and then use them.
In other words, Ray Kroc was a pretty unseemly man, the very blueprint of a ruthlessly successful businessman. Michael Keaton plays Kroc in the film. If Keaton would have embraced the darker side of the Ray Kroc character, and played him with some of the vicious confidence of say, Michael Douglas‘ Gordon Gekko in Wall Street, this might have been a memorable film. Instead, Keaton gives a shaky performance that feels both rudimentary and uninspired. Ray Kroc was born in Arlington Heights, Illinois. So was I. I spotted zero mannerisms, voice inflections, or tones reminiscent of where the character hailed from.
Nick Offerman as Dick McDonald (on the right), and John Caroll Lynch as Mac McDonald (on the left), represent “the good” in the parable. They have a lifetime history of working as a team. They share ideas and implement them together always striving to be better. Their relationship is enviable, genuine and strong. They obviously give each other the right push to achieve bigger and better things while supporting each other. Both performances are stand out good. The actors possess a seemingly innate chemistry and fill out their characters in a way that is missing from Keaton and the rest of the cast.
Some who enjoy business procedurals may enjoy the plodding storyline, but for your average viewer this film is forgettable.
My Rating: 2.5 Stars
Director: John Lee Hancock
Writer: Robert Siegel
Starring: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch
Runtime: 115 minutes
Release Date: January 20, 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13