The Founder is a biopic that details how the Golden Arches, better known as the fast-food empire McDonald’s, rose to domination.
The movie begins with a struggling milkshake-mixer salesman named Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton). Ray has been traveling across the South giving a tired sales pitch to drive-in owners about why they need his four pronged mixer. Suddenly, he gets a call from California requesting six mixers. Disbelieving that any location would require six of his mixers, Ray makes the cross-country drive to San Bernardino, California where he meets the brothers Dick and Mac McDonald (John Carroll Lynch & Nick Offerman, respectively), the founders of a booming curbside restaurant called McDonald’s. With a line of customers a block long, Ray watches in shock as the line moves rapidly. In his and all of America’s experience, waiting for thirty to forty minutes for food at drive-ins was normal. Ray catches Mac McDonald, who merrily gives Ray a tour of their custom-made “Speedee-system” kitchen designed by Dick McDonald. Mac demonstrates how they can create a burger in less than thirty seconds and in that instant Ray knew this system was priceless. Within a week, he bought the franchise rights from the McDonalds brothers and birthed a fast-food craze, driving the brothers mad with his demands to increase efficiency and profits. After several years of infighting, Ray finally wrests control of McDonald’s from the brothers and turns the chain into a global powerhouse.
Movie Score: 3 out of 5 (Good)
I enjoyed this movie. My synopsis, though it seems detailed, only covers the beginning of the movie. The meat of this story, lies with the main lead, Michael Keaton. His performance is arresting. Ray Kroc is a ruthless, narcissistic, scum-bucket, and Keaton plays him perfectly. My favorite trait of Ray’s was this weird evil smile Keaton developed where you only see his top teeth. Something about that smile made my skin crawl, and it was just right for this money-mongerer, who I’m sure Donald Trump would praise for his cutthroat, self-centered business practices.
Ray’s downfall, from hard-working, supportive husband to ego-centric millionaire was the second best part about this movie. You can see Ray’s changes through his demeanor, from his increased drinking habits to his my-way-or-the-highway approach to life. His conviction in matters is scary, though maybe that’s what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. If it is, I won’t be starting a profitable business. Ever.
The reason I docked this film two stars is because the plot is incredibly formulaic. It reminds me a lot of Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige (A fantastic movie that I am not criticizing). Ray Kroc is almost synonymous with Christian Bale’s character, Alfred Borden. Both men begin the movie humble yet hardworking. Then as the movie progresses their hunger for success consumes them, driving them to abandon their wives, disown their friends, and take on lovers if the mood hits them. I called several plot turns in this movie long before they came to fruition, which caused the movie to become stale.
While The Founder was not dull due to Keaton’s performance, its basic plot did make it drag in sections. I would recommend this movie only if you’ve seen everything else at the multiplex and your other options are Resident Evil: The Final Chapter or The Space Between Us. Otherwise, if you haven’t seen Split, Hidden Figures, Patriot’s Day, or Paterson, wait till this one comes on Netflix, iTunes, or Amazon.
Target audience: Mid to older aged audiences and adults looking to kill time on a rainy day.
As always, your comments and thoughts are welcome.
For trailer, see below.
By Hagood Grantham