Starring Michael Keaton, Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, B.J Novak, Patrick Wilson, Linda Cardellini
Engrossing. Well-acted. Fascinating.
In the mid-fifties, Ray Kroc (Keaton) was a struggling salesman traveling city to city to sell milkshake makers. Brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald (Offerman and Lynch) were revolutionizing the food service model by speeding up the process, managing to combine quality with efficiency. Kroc sees their restaurant and knows that their idea could be huge, and so he convinces the brothers to franchise. The film shows Kroc as both a tenacious visionary and a ruthless thief. The title plays on the irony of Kroc selling himself off as “the founder” of McDonald’s. I had some quibbles with the tone of the picture mainly because I feel this material and this film had the potential to be truly great. I think the satirical elements could have been sharper, and more camera movement would have lent more energy to the movie. Aside from that, the story is fascinating. The performances are fantastic with each and every role filled in perfectly. There is a lot to digest in the picture about Kroc’s journey to the top, and the price he pays is one most people will shake their head at. American greed has been the subject of a number of great films including: Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), There Will Be Blood (2007), The Social Network (2011). The Founder paints a picture of the American Dream as easily tainted and awfully bleak. That it does so in such an entertaining fashion is an impressive feat. Is it a great movie? No, but it’s certainly a very good one that’s lingered in my mind.
-Walter Tyrone Howard-