My boss told me that this film suffered a sub-par turn-out its opening weekend. Can’t quite put my finger on why, I was thoroughly-entertained.
This streak of “untold stories”—The Infiltrator, Sully, Patriots Day, Hidden Figures, and now The Founder—we’ve had recently is…intriguing, to say the least. Of course, it’s something that has to be taken with a grain of salt; it’s always a toss-up as to whether or not the filmmakers are being coaxed into creating a mythos, are pursuing their own agendas or angles, or what-have-you. That said, however, it’s nonetheless compelling to see something such as the rise and fall of the McDonald Brothers’ dream restaurant portrayed on film. Let’s get into it…
As with all the aforementioned movies, casting is important. Getting the people in the roles right is all part of the immersion process—not just the looks, but the mannerisms, based on (for the most part) readily-accessible historical records. This film is no different than the others; Michael Keaton as the titular character, Ray Kroc—as well as Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch, in their respective roles of Dick and Mac McDonald—were perfect, and, though physically separate for a lot of their screen-time, played off each other very well. Tensions built between the two parties until the tipping point was reached, and the brothers’ dream crumbled beneath them. This is a heart-wrenching tale, at its core. Other surprise big names—like Patrick Wilson, Linda Cardellini, and BJ Novak—were a nice touch, as well.
The character arc of Keaton’s Kroc is an interesting one. He goes from zero to Nero, door-to-door salesman to corporate crook right before our eyes, and…it’s tragic. Everything from his home life to his business dealings are strained, even broken, in his greedy grab for the green he sees in the Golden Arches. He begins with the best intentions—of helping these greenhorn brothers up into greatness—and does the most American thing of all: subverting a wholesome institution for his own, selfish gain, no matter the consequence to others. This made me really feel for Dick and Mac; they had a real vision for a closer-knit comestible community, and that many-decade-old dream was stolen away from them in a matter of years.
Soundtracks are important to me. I found myself tapping my foot in several instances to older tunes I’ve heard a thousand times before. As with anything utilized in conveying a story, the music has to be on-point. It certainly was.
All in all, seeing this movie unfold and with what little I knew about the rise of the McDonald’s brand, it makes me wonder: what would’ve happened if Ray Kroc had never come along? Surely, someone else may have tried to weasel their way into the brothers’ operation, but without Kroc’s charisma and salesmanship, they would’ve surely failed at very stage. Kroc used his years as a salesman to charm the brothers into what eventually resulted in signing their life and legacy away. That’s why barely anyone today knows their names.
Overall, The Founder is a romp of a film—full of ups and downs, witty and lively characters. Final ‘Risk Assessment: ****/*.
I want a Big Mac now…
Next review: Arrival (2016) – Reissue