Directed by: John Lee Hancock
Based on the original screenplay by: Robert Siegel
Produced by: Aaron Ryder and Don Handfield
Starring: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Laura Dern, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, B. J. Novak.
Business is war. It’s not even dog eat dog, it’s rat eat rat.
A true story based on the uprising of McDonald’s, The Founder is a remarkable story of Corporate America. Of how persistence and will power can create an empire for a man with a mouth and a keen eye for a successful business.
The film begins in 1954, showing Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) on the road trying to sell five-spindle Multimixers used to make milkshakes to the owners of Drive-In Diners.
After sitting in his car waiting for over 30 minutes for his meal, Ray checks in with the office to get an order for six Multimixes. He decides to drive out west to San Bernardino, California, to see what sort of restaurant would require so many milkshakes. And that’s when the real story begins, when Ray pulls up to the original McDonald’s, to see the lines of people waiting for their meal served not in 30 minutes, but in 30 seconds.
McDonald’s was a vision set in motion by the two McDonald brothers, Mac (John Carroll Lynch) and Dick (Nick Offerman). It was the McDonald brothers creation of the Speedee System, an assembly-line style of food preparation, that made the delivery of food to customers, fast.
The golden arches, the iconic symbol of fast food that’s now dotted across the globe in 35,000 locations was created by Dick McDonald.
The brothers are the true Founders. But without the business acumen of Ray Kroc, McDonald’s would have remained just one restaurant.
The Founder is a character driven story with the crazed look of Keaton matching the perverse determination of Ray Kroc perfectly.
And the story is certainly an interesting one.
What fascinated me was Ray’s fortunate meeting of Harry Sonneborn (B. J. Novak), the financial whiz who came up with the idea to buy the land and then lease to the McDonald’s franchisee.
The idea that McDonald’s is one of the biggest realestate company’s in the world is mind boggling.
But that’s where the fascination ended.
Even with the gumption of Ray, a character to admire from afar as any closer you’d wonder if you’d be left with your wallet, the story just followed from one event to the other.
The monologue of Ray speaking to the camera at the beginning (and the end) added a bit of spice, but I was left wanting more.
The film evoked memories of childhood, of those gherkins flying through the air because no one liked the gherkin. Seeing the 1950s version of the meat patties made me wish McD’s hadn’t changed from the original – thanks Ray!
But isn’t it interesting that McD’s is providing more quality burgers these days, at more expense to the diner? The post-war 1950s pushed for more and faster, and the Speedee System was born. Is it a reflection of today’s society? Quality even if it costs more?
The Founder is thought-provoking but a greater insight into how Ray’s mind worked, like seeing the Speedee System work, would have given the story more flavour.
And I question the calm camera work here, as there’s a vibrant chaos to the McDonald’s restaurants, that brings out the fun of childhood – just think of those clowns! Showing a bit of craziness would have heightened the movie experience.
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