Verdict: A delicious bite into the making of McDonald's.
The movie opens with a close shot of Michael Keaton's face. From the very beginning, you are aware of who the spotlight is going to be on. Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is a salesman who is down on his luck. It's 1950s USA and Ray Kroc is trying, and mostly failing, to sell milkshake machines. Out of the blue, he gets a call for eight machines which piques his curiosity. He drives across the country to San Bernardino and discovers a small, yet popular burger joint called McDonald's.
What some people may call greed, Ray Kroc would be the man to call it opportunity. He teams up with the McDonald brothers, Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Caroll Lynch). They never see eye-to-eye. He unabashedly wants to make money, and they want to retain McDonald's purity, away from corporate capitalism.
The irony of naming the movie The Founder becomes clear as the story unfolds. Ray Kroc did not start the company like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. He was simply a man who took something that already existed and what he did was "franchise the damn thing". The legacy of Ray Kroc is present in every franchise that opens in the world. He built an empire from a revolutionary idea limited to a small joint only known by locals.
Michael Keaton is undeniably the star of The Founder. While the role doesn't reach the level of Birdman, it comes close. Keaton successfully makes Ray Kroc a likable person, even though he was essentially a professional leech. Director John Lee Hancock may not have made another The Social Network, but you get the feeling both movies come from the same place. After all, you don't make 500 million burgers without making a few enemies.
The Founder has bits of humor that will have you entertained through some slow parts of the movie. While the plot lacks too many twists, it more than makes it up with brilliant acting, even by the supporting cast. Laura Dern plays Ray Kroc's first wife, Ethel, who you will empathize with. B. J. Novak plays Harry J. Sonneborn who swoops in when Ray is in trouble and has a hand in turning McDonald's into the large company it is. We also get great appearances by Patrick Wilson and Linda Cardellini.
The ending feels a bit rushed as everything wraps up a bit too soon. But as the credits roll, with Ray Kroc's voice delivering a speech over soft music, you leave feeling more insightful about the billion-dollar corporation.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
If you have a love for biopics or want to know how McDonald's came to be the big deal it is today, this movie is a must-watch. The Founder has no boring moments and you will get to see some great performances by the stellar cast.