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Dan's Review: Keaton shines in "The Founder"

Jan 20, 2017 12:22PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Michael Keaton in The Founder - © 2016 The Weinstein Company

The Founder (The Weinstein Company)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.

Starring Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, B. J. Novak, Laura Dern, Ric Reitz, Justin Randell Brooke, Wilbur Fitzgerald.

Written by Robert D. Siegel

Directed by John Lee Hancock.



Welcome to McDonalds, may I take your order? If I had $100,000 for every time I heard that phrase, I might be as rich as Ray Kroc. The Founder is the story of Kroc, a man who saw potential in a small hamburger joint in San Bernardino, and turned it into the biggest fast food chain in the world.

 Michael Keaton plays Kroc, a down-on-his-luck ice cream shake machine salesman who chances upon Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch) McDonald’s little burger stand in southern California, where the brothers have perfected the art of fast food servicing, thus creating a higher volume in burger sales. Seeing great potential for franchising, Kroc tries to convince the brothers to expand. They resist Kroc’s ideals at first, but eventually agree to allow for franchises on a greater scale, as long as they have control over the product. Ray heads back to his hometown in the Chicago suburbs where he lives with his lonely wife Ethel (Laura Dern) and begins to open McDonald’s all over the Midwest. He soon discovers that the business model will not survive unless he can get a bigger piece of the pie from the brothers, along with enacting a few cost-cutting practices. Ray also meets Joan (Linda Cardellini) the wife of one of his franchisees (Patrick Wilson), and immediately falls in love. Just when it seems Ray is about to go under, he meets Harry Sonnebom (B. J. Novak) a businessman who convinces him that he can make so much more money if he owns the land under each restaurant which he can then lease to the franchisee. The brothers do not like this new wrinkle and threaten to shut Ray down. Ray counters with an offer that the brothers cannot refuse, and the rest is history.

The Founder is an excellent, albeit a sobering movie about the damage one can wield in the name of ambition. Keaton’s portrayal of the famous McDonald’s magnate is not what I’d consider complimentary to Kroc or his legacy. Kroc’s treatment of the McDonald brothers is shown in all its devastating glory, right down to the cutthroat way the brothers are erased from the history of the fast food giant. I remember that I used to see a plaque in every McDonald’s, giving all credit to Kroc for the chain’s success, while omitting the brothers, who were bought out for $2 million and promised more in royalties, which they never saw.

Keaton’s superb performance s complimented by an extremely talented cast, especially Offerman and Lynch, who give the brothers a unique contrast of humanity in the face of merciless ambition.

So, the next time you crave a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder, consider the source. Kroc may have brought the restaurant to your hometown, but the burger and service came from someone else.


The Founder Trailer