The Founder movie review: Micheal Keaton owns this fascinating biography of Ray Kroc

Mihir Fadnavis

Jan 20, 2017 14:58:27 IST


Ever wondered how McDonalds became the massive multi generational phenomenon that it is today? Ever wondered who was the opportunist genius who discovered the opportunity to cash in on human beings’ insatiable appetite for tasty burgers? Are you in the mood for another terrific acting performance from Michael Keaton? Then The Founder, out in theaters this Friday, is the film you definitely need to see.

Directed by John Lee Hancock who has made Saving Mr Banks and The Blind Side, The Founder is a fascinating biography of Ray Kroc (Keaton) who discovered the fast food equivalent of striking oil. Two brothers – Dick and Mac McDonald (Nick Offerman and John Carrol Lynch) order an unprecedented eight milk shake mixers and Kroc is surprised.

The Founder movie review: Micheal Keaton owns this fascinating biography of Ray Kroc

Screengrab from Youtube.

He looks into what these brothers do and how they go about things, and is astounded by their logistics of handling a fast food outlet. He quickly realizes the potential of chain of restaurants around the world and decides to cash in.

What works for the film is how unhinged Kroc is and the way he is presented as a straightforward asshole. There is absolutely no gray area at all – Kroc is the very definition of an opportunist spineless businessman as we go through a series of montages containing his rapid-fire business dealings.

Surprisingly, for the most part we tend to be okay with the way he goes about things. There’s a lovable fiendishness about him and he makes you root for him – because even though he’s screwing over people, he’s just trying to execute his grand vision that will change the course of the worldwide food industry.

This is of course mainly thanks to an eerily dedicated performance from Keaton, who has now mastered the craft of playing lovable assholes. His hurricane-like forward momentum of fiendishness is wonderfully complemented by Offerman and Lynch who play low key gullible McDonald brothers completely dominated by and ultimately screwed over by Kroc.

Linda Cardellini, who plays a woman Kroc steals from another man, gets a scene stealing moment when tells Kroc a new formula for mixing milk shakes – something that he sees as better than sex.

Director Hancock along with his writer Robert Siegel (The Wrestler, Big Fan) do a fairly good job of establishing Kroc’s determination and grand schemes of forming a business empire but they barely touch the seams of the moral implications of what Kroc is doing.

In initiating a chain of restaurants that serves delicious cheap food he’s also pretty much endangering the lives of millions of humans – this angle of public health is the one that the film needed to really focus on but it simply ignores it and moves on to the next darkly funny business meeting between Kroc and execs in suits.

There’s also a strange TV-movie like quality to the film, and also a vibe that makes it look like it’s trying very hard to be a David O Russell movie, which is trying very hard to be a Martin Scorsese movie. Perhaps this was a story that can best be processed as a Netflix ten part dark comedy rather than one single movie.

Updated Date: Sep 21, 2017 12:50:59 IST