The Founder

The Founder gives us an insight of what happened behind the scenes of McDonald’s in the beginning.

The film starts off in 1954 with Ray Kroc trying and failing to make ends meet by selling milkshake makers. One day his receptionist informs him of a large order for his product by a restaurant called McDonald’s in California. Convinced the order is a mistake, Ray calls up McDonald’s only to be told they actually need more than they ordered.

Shocked and intrigued, Ray decides to drive to California to check out this mysterious restaurant. Upon his arrival, he sees what he has never seen before – a long line of people walking up to the counter to order and receiving their food within minutes, if not less. What our current society now calls fast food.

Ray Kroc introduces himself to the creators, Richard and Mac McDonald, and asks them to show him how they operate. He immediately starts pursuing the brothers to hire him as their franchise manager. Reluctantly, they agree and draw up a contract for his employment. The rest of the story depicts a toned down version of how Kroc went from an employee to be the self proclaimed “founder” of McDonald’s.

It’s important to note that The Founder is a biographical drama of Ray Kroc, taking place between the mid-50s to the time he completely stole McDonald’s away from the McDonald brothers. All the other characters are in support roles. Which I have to assume was decided on because it would have been a disaster to have so many characters portrayed in one film who have been used by Kroc.

The Founder is an engaging and enjoyable film, however, it is certainly not a feel good story. It will give you mixed emotions in the first half, along with a strong craving for fast food courtesy of the close up shots of burgers. By the second half, those emotions will turn to anger and loathing towards Kroc. 

Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch play Richard (Dick) and Mac McDonald – the real founders. Laura Dern has a small role as Kroc’s first long suffering wife who ends up being one of his victims. Patrick Wilson takes on the role of Rollie Smith, a restaurateur who becomes interested in opening a McDonald’s. He becomes another victim of Kroc’s morally corrupt style of life. 

Michael Keaton tackles the talented, but very unlikeable “professional leech”, Ray Kroc. His performance is already being tipped to earn him a number of awards.

It becomes very apparent during the film that John Lee Hancock and Robert Siegel tread very carefully with the story. Certain aspects are altered (McDonald brothers had 28 restaurants already by 1954) and others are watered down to make the script and Kroc more palatable. Plus, no one wants to upset a mammoth empire like McDonald’s.

Having seen the movie, you will appreciate just how much the McDonald bothers – and to a degree, Kroc – have revolutionised the food industry.

The Founder will have you talking about it long after the movie ends. It won’t affect the sales at McDonald’s but it will leave you looking at those gold arches a lot differently.

I rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars.  

The Founder is in cinems now.

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