Rob Reviews "The Founder"
McDonald’s is a worldwide phenomenon, with over 36,000 stores in 119 countries around the world serving almost 68 million customers a day as the second largest private employer in the world behind Wal-Mart. Go just about anywhere farther than about a two-mile radius from where you may be right now and those Golden Arches send their signal out like a beacon that draws people in droves to its promise of family, food, and fun. As much as you may think you know about the company and the lauded Ray A. Kroc as its founder, you may want to rethink that plan as John Lee Hancock tells the tale of his rise to power and infamy with the simply titled, “The Founder”.
Michael Keaton plays Kroc, a man who knows nothing outside of his latest hustle to try to be the first guy on the block to sell the latest gadget, failing more often than not. When his latest item, a multi handled milkshake maker, gets a large order from two brothers in San Bernardino, California, he drives there to find out what they are all about. He meets Dick and Mac McDonald (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch, respectively) at their small hamburger stand, where they show him their revolutionary food prep and delivery system called “Spee-Dee” (remember seeing THAT on some of the retro advertising? Now you know). Kroc, being a bit of a visionary and a lot of a man that can never have enough, convinces the brothers to let him franchise their concept, starting a series of events that will eventually show Kroc’s true colors.
This is the kind of story that shows why there are certain areas of the world that hate us, but does so in a very honest and raw way. Keaton (whom I have always been a fan of) just seems to get better and better as the years go on, and he plays the guy who made McDonald’s a household name in a way that made me both feel sorry for and want to hit him with a steel chair all at the same time. Granted, the latter will take over the longer the film goes, but knowing at least a little bit about this story, I expected some of it. Kroc is truly shown as a wolf in sheep’s clothing that seems to make those he deals with buy into what he is selling in the same way that Gordon Gecko told us that “greed… is good” thirty years ago (which is one of the performances that Keaton is said to have studied in his research for this role).
This story also cannot work without a good protagonist for Kroc’s antagonist, and that comes in the form of Offerman’s Dick McDonald. This is a role that he truly shines in, setting himself almost completely apart from the Ron Swanson style of acting that I am accustomed to (although there is a tinge in there), and plays the small town guy with larger dreams to the hilt. Even though there is limited screen time with them both together, Offerman goes toe-to-toe with Keaton in every single exchange they have, even via telephone conversations. Lynch is a great compliment to him as well as a man that wants nothing more than to help his brother see his dreams come to reality, no matter the cost to him. There are also great turns by B.J. Novak, whose character becomes a game changer for Kroc, as well as Patrick Wilson and Linda Cardellini as a couple in Minneapolis who become franchisees and much more to Kroc.
Is it weird that I keep wanting to add a “k” to the end of Kroc’s name? You may not think so after you see this film, and trust me: YOU WANT TO SEE THIS FILM. If the cast is not enough for you, go see “The Founder” in order to see this absolutely unreal story unfold. There may be some that feel the need to not visit their local McDonald’s after this because it is THAT powerful, but honestly, that just means more for me. Not sure what that says about me as a human being, but… I’m lovin’ it.
OK, I’m done now. Seriously. I’m actually kinda ashamed about that last one.