2016, FilmNation Entertainment/The Weinstein Company/Faliro House Productions/The Combine/Speedie Distribution
John Lee Hancock
Michael Keaton (Ray Kroc)
Nick Offerman (Dick McDonald)
John Carroll Lynch (Mac McDonald)
Linda Cardellini (Joan Smith)
B.J. Novak (Harry J. Sonnefeld)
Laura Dern (Ethel Kroc)
Justin Randell Brooke (Fred Turner)
Kate Kneeland (June Martino)
Patrick Wilson (Rollie Smith)
The story of how McDonald’s went from a small drive-in restaurant to the franchise we all know and love today is driven by some great performances by Michael Keaton and Nick Offerman in this riveting look at how business and persistence can change someone.
In 1954, Ray Kroc is a milkshake machine salesman who has done pretty modestly in the business. However, one fateful day changes his life forever when he learns there is an order for six mixers to go to San Bernardino, California. The journey takes Ray to McDonald’s restaurant, a small time place run by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald that brings the concept of fast food. After learning of how everything is done, Ray comes up with an idea to franchise the place and whereas the brothers couldn’t do it, Ray uses the power of persistence.
However, as the company slowly begins to franchise in the Midwest, Ray soon learns that sometimes, not everything can go as planned. When Ray’s contract with the McDonalds limit him to how much he is earning, an attempt to renegotiate his contract goes sour and even worse, his marriage begins to crumble. After meeting with finance manager Harry Sonnefeld, Ray comes up with a brilliant idea that will change the course of the company forever and resorts to having to show the McDonald brothers that success can come at a price.
There comes a time when the true life story of how persistence can lead to success yet costs the possible livelihoods of others is brought to films. Today, McDonald’s is one of the greatest if not the greatest fast food restaurant in the world today. However, many people may not know its entire history. Questions like “Who is McDonald” and others involving the business would be raised. This film, directed by John Lee Hancock, answers those questions and it may even bring up some more questions down the road in terms of the practices achieved in the film.
The screenplay is based on Ray Kroc’s autobiography meshed with an unauthorized biography of the company. The film is driven by the performance of Michael Keaton, in his continuing comeback run since the Academy Award-winning film Birdman. Here, he plays Ray Kroc undergoing from the transition from milkshake mixer salesman to the titular “founder” of the McDonald’s franchise. While his tactics towards the third act were ultimately questionable, Kroc truly became a genius at what he achieved and to this day, his legacy remains all over the world.
The big surprise of the film must be the performance of Nick Offerman as Dick McDonald. The actor, normally known for his comedic talent, really breaks type here as the stern older of the brothers. Dick is the type who was hellbent on making his restaurant just something small but had the idea along with brother Mac of how to create hamburgers and fries in such a short amount of time, creating the idea in 1948. Perhaps Dick never realized how this can be a major business nationwide or perhaps he is worried that business owners will follow suit and not give him the credit. How it all plays out in revealed in the final scene of the third act as to why everything that’s happened happened before the epilogue scene, which is the same as the prologue scene in which Kroc prepares to give a speech in 1970.
A true story about one of the greatest businesses in the world today and how it all came about, The Founder is a great film that brings out some great performances by Michael Keaton and Nick Offerman as partners turned rivals in the fast food business. Definitely worth checking out.
WFG RATING: A