I can’t believe we’re still in January, because the movies that I’ve seen are surprisingly entertaining. Today we have a film that takes us through the early days of Ray Kroc; entrepreneur/salesman who had a string of failures behind his 20+ years in the business. When he comes across a small restaurant created/run by two brothers (Mike and Dick McDonald), Kroc instantly desires to be a part of it. After much contemplation and pitching, he convinces the brothers to turn their very successful restaurant into a nationwide franchise. After a while, Kroc begins to take over the business as he makes decisions that the brothers disagree with.
If you couldn’t tell, this is based on a true story, and a much more engrossing one than I initially thought. The Founder blends rich American history with detailed explanations of how the industry functions to create a film that average audiences and business-minded people will enjoy. There is actually a lot of wisdom and knowledge to take from this movie, but none of that would matter if the lead performance wasn’t up to snuff.
I’m glad Michael Keaton is continuing to pick scripts (Birdman, Spotlight) that are packed with potential, because he can sell almost any character. Ray Kroc is a bit of an antihero. He neglects his wife (played by Laura Dern), backstabs the brothers, and cares very little about other people’s opinions. However, the writing for his character always keeps him likeable. The movie makes it very clear that he has been suffering through his career for decades and he never caught a big break. When something this promising finally comes into his life, he takes charge and diligently works. He’s a little like Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network; even if you don’t like him, you have to admire his tenacity and cleverness. Did he (I use this term for the purpose of making a point) basterdize the concept? A little, but he kept goals in sight and stuck to the core message of the iconic chain. What helps is Keaton’s passion and intimidation. As the movie goes on, he becomes more and more cutthroat and determined (a lethal combination); it gets to the point where you could compare him to a mob boss in terms of inspiring fear.
Sure, the editing is unnecessarily quick, and the pacing is slow, but The Founder is an important film to see if you have ever partaken of the ubiquitous brand’s culinary delicacies. Considering how many locations there are, the odds say you have. The Founder gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a B+.