Saturday, January 28, 2017

Movie Review #560: "The Founder" (2017)

Movie"The Founder"
Director: John Lee Hancock
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
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The story of Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) and his rise from meager milkshake machine salesman to the head of the massive international fast food giant, McDonald's. 

"The Founder" is directed by John Lee Hancock, who has directed films like "The Blind Side" and "Saving Mr. Banks." It is written by Robert D. Siegel, who is best known for writing "The Wrestler." It tells the story of Ray Kroc, played by Michael Keaton, who at 50-something years old switched from selling milkshake mixers to selling franchises of McDonald's restaurants. He goes into to business with the McDonald brothers, Dick and Mac, played by Nick Offerman and John Caroll Lynch, who invented the fast service format we know today and founded the company McDonald's in Santa Monica, CA. Kroc, however, convinced them to franchise their restaurant under the condition that they could maintain quality control standards and have the final say on any and all changes. As time passes, Kroc grows weary of having to gain approval from these two very cautious businessmen and eventually begins to seize control of the company, forcing the McDonald brothers out of the business they built together and put their name on before having it stolen from them.

This is one of those biopics about a protagonist who is both wildly successful and a pretty big asshole. This is not uncommon in these types of stories as there is more drama in the lives of less agreeable people. It is interesting in that Ray Kroc essentially stole McDonald's restaurant from the McDonald brothers, though much of its success is due to his persistence in pushing the franchise model. It is unfortunately naturally part of the American dream, achieved by stepping on those who get in your way, an honest and disappointing fact of life. Michael Keaton is one of the greatest living actors around and does a fantastic job portraying this character who walks the fence between outgoing, likable, success-driven businessman and ruthless, complete and total jerk. He is a charming guy who seemed to start his business with the best of intentions, but lets his desire for success and money overtake whatever prior relationships he may have formed. Offerman and Lynch also are great as the McDonald brothers, whose trusting nature becomes their demise in the end. Their own business is yanked right from under them, and instead of fighting a battle they know they could not win, they settled and let Kroc walk all over them.

This is a movie that will make you want to eat a hamburger after you watch it, but it will also make you never want to step foot in a McDonald's ever again. When you see how ruthless Kroc was in obtaining the company, it's hard to justify supporting it, even though he did provide opportunities for average people to make a decent living back in the day. The acting here is all around excellent and the story is mostly compelling, though a little more drama and suspense could have done "The Founder" good because it does feel a little slowly paced at times.


My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 81%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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