<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by John Lee Hancock. Starring Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, BJ Novak, Laura Dern, Justin Randell Brooke, Kate Kneeland
Running time: 1 hour 55 minutes
An amusing and remarkable story about the world’s most famous fast food chain and how it came to be. It’ll surprise and inspire you, and perhaps make you want to stop by your neighbourhood McD’s for a Happy Meal.
The Founder will make you think about America as the land of dreams. Well, it certainly was a couple of decades ago when persistent and passionate dreamers could bring a small idea to life. Ray Kroc was one such travelling salesman who had had enough of trying to sell milkshake machines and was ready to take a risk of a lifetime, even though he was in his 50s.
On his road trips, Ray realised that the American diners of the 1950s were terrible. That was until he found a small, ‘walk-up-to-the-window’ diner called McDonald’s that was run by two brothers (Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch); and his life changed forever.
What’s intriguing about The Founder is the devil in the details. The little things like how items on their menu changed (powdered milkshakes happened but don’t worry, they now add ice cream again) and how there were always two pickles in a burger. Ray came up with the idea to franchise the business since the two McDonald’s brothers lacked vision and wanted to do things the old fashioned way.
But without Ray, McDonald’s wouldn’t have been what it is today. He starts off with notions of an American family restaurant that would be like the church of fast food. The Golden Arches being compared to a cross or the flag. But soon we see his idealism being warped by greed and the promise of so much more. We disapprove of some of his methods, but without them, the brothers would only have their small stand in San Bernadino. Without Ray, there would be no McDonald’s. It’s not enough to have a good idea, you need to have the persistence and drive to carry it forward. And Ray Kroc did that, which is why McDonald’s will always be seen as his baby.
Michael Keaton owns the role of Ray Kroc. His demeanour shifts between charming and ruthless effortlessly. It’s very hard to hate him.
The Founder is a funny film, with drama and plenty of ‘nuggets’ about business acumen and the tools you need to achieve greatness in the world. While the ‘America is the land of dreams’ moniker may not be as true today, we can see why it was the country that made so many big brands and helped build so many big dreams.