The Founder tells the true story of how McDonalds grew from a single innovative idea to a massive franchise empire.
Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, a struggling businessman who happens onto the McDonalds brothers Dick and Mac (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch) who partner with him to help expand their new way of serving food (The Speedee System) to new locations. As they soon learn, you need to be more particular with who you trust.
Ray starts off the film as a pathetic salesman, trying to make ends meet after entering too many bad business decisions. After stumbling onto a small burger place in San Bernadino, he becomes increasingly interested in their business model. They had discovered a new way of making hamburgers quickly and efficiently while maintaining the same great quality as other slower places. They came up with the then-original idea of utilizing an assembly line system within the food industry. This was revolutionary at the time, and sensing the lucrative potential for expansion, Kroc leapt aboard as head of franchising. As he grows more and more greedy, he begins to take advantage of the trusting brothers as he tries to make more money.
Keaton plays the sleazy business man so well, and entirely becomes the character who escalates and changes as he realizes that this scheme may actually be a fiscally beneficial one. At the onset, he is kind of a sympathetic character. He is portrayed as a pathetic salesman who can’t get a break. But after the first half, you quickly lose sympathy for him as he progresses into a downright antagonist. I love how Keaton plays him (I mean I love how Keaton plays just about anyone), but this could have been a fairly boring story but Keaton does a great job portraying the real Ray Kroc.
The other standout performance is Nick Offerman as Dick McDonald. John Carroll Lynch is okay as Mac McDonald, but Offerman blows him away. Lynch could have been replaced by anybody, but Offerman gave such a great performance as the tough brother who tries to stick up for his soft-spoken brother. They have great chemistry together and you root for them even if you know it probably won’t end well.
This is a movie that really flew under the radar, but it’s a really good biopic. To this day if you Google who the founder of McDonalds is, Ray Kroc’s name comes up. He took over an idea and he made an empire. It’s an interesting story that I had never learned, but I’m glad that I know now. It’s well acted and interesting and will make you feel a lot worse about enjoying your next batch of McNuggets.
Amy’s Recommendation: 8/10