The Founder: Movie Review

Updated on November 28, 2018
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

The Founder
The Founder | Source

In the fall of 2004 former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler released his fourth solo album, the well-reviewed but ultimately-ignored Shangri-La. Its first single was a quirky little pop song Knopfler wrote after reading Grinding it Out, the autobiography of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. “Boom, Like That” came and went with little fanfare, and, as with many pop songs, its lyrics no doubt were ignored by most of the folks who heard it. But those who did pay attention received a pithy history lesson about the origins of the world’s largest and most profitable fast food chain. (“It's dog eat dog, rat eat rat. Kroc-style. Boom, like that”)

That’s Kroc’s story in 11 words, and it’s now being told again, expanded from a five-minute pop song into a two-hour movie directed by John Lee Hancock (Saving Mr. Banks). Starring Michael Keaton as Kroc, The Founder takes us from the Golden Arches’ humble beginnings as a single San Bernardino storefront through to its global expansion. But this is not a happy little story about a man who had a brilliant idea and then fought and fought until it became reality; it’s a happy little story about a man who stole a brilliant idea and then fought and fought until it became reality. There’s admittedly some true genius in how Kroc recognized the brilliance of the concept he ultimately stole, but The Founder doesn’t try to sugarcoat the fact that Kroc is ruthless, conniving businessman. Whether or not you emerge from the theater thinking that’s a good thing or a bad thing is left up to you.

At the outset Kroc is driving across the Midwest trying to sell milkshake machines to drive-ins, but he keeps getting the door slammed in his face. Then he gets a big order from the McDonald brothers, so Kroc hightails it to California to see what’s behind it. Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch) give Kroc a tour of their well-oiled machine, explaining they provide “food in 30 seconds, not 30 minutes.” Kroc falls in love with what he sees and talks the reluctant brothers into franchising. For the brothers, it all goes downhill from there. For Kroc, it was the first step toward his becoming one of the richest and most successful businessmen in American history.

Keaton dives into the role with a fierce determination, anchoring the film with his portrayal of a man who starts out as a slick huckster before developing into a shrewd, smart, and driven leader. His last two stellar performances in Birdman and Spotlight proved Keaton has re-emerged as one of the more reliable actors at work today, and The Founder further cements that. The first moment in the movie is Keaton as Kroc staring directly into the camera as he gives his milkshake-mixer sales pitch. We’re instantly hooked; after just a few seconds we’re willing to believe anything this man says.

Hooker, for his part, brings the story to life, presenting the 1950s in vivid detail, and though his direction is fairly run-of-the-mill, it’s all that’s required to tell a story where the main character is the focal point. Likewise the script by Robert Siegel (Turbo) in noticeably short on perspective and Kroc’s backstory, but in the moment it provides a solid look at the man on the verge of launching a fast food empire, and it’s often tinged with equal parts of drama and humor.

Ray Kroc may not have been a model of morality or fair play, but he worked the system to his advantage and changed the world along the way. He knew what he wanted, and he went after it. As Knopfler sang later in his song, “Sometimes you gotta be an s.o.b., if you wanna make a dream reality”.

Rating

4/5 stars

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)