THE Founder tells the story of how Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) turned McDonald’s from a quality family business to a disgusting money grabbing outlet selling what essentially might as well be human excrement (I think that’s the official synopsis).
Ray Kroc is salesman specialising in milkshake makers when he comes across McDonald’s, a family run restaurant that has the potential to revolutionise the way we consume food. And what would any self respecting man do in this situation? Well, steal the company from it’s actual founders, Dick and Mac McDonald (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch), franchise the fuck out of it and dilute any ounce of quality or value the product has in favour of making profit. Yay capitalism.
Which neatly brings me on to my issue with this film. This could have been this year’s The Big Short or The Social Network. It’s that sort of story. Someone royally screwing over someone else for their own personal gain. It could have been that tense, dramatic and hard-hitting. But sadly, it is not. It’s actually quite a light hearted affair. Which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it, I did, but it feels like an opportunity missed.
Keaton is predictably great but I feel like his role is totally misused. We see the film from his eyes so in some respect, he’s almost the hero of the story. Without him, the fast “food” outlet that so many people inexplicably love, would not exist. He’s vile and deceptive and ruins the lives’ of the McDonald brothers because of his greed. Yet all this is played to almost comedic effect, which felt like an odd direction to take. Sure, he’s a great businessman. But what a dick.
For me, the strength of this film is in Dick and Mac, brilliantly played by Offerman and Carroll Lynch. The two have such a warm presence on screen that I genuinely felt affection for McDonald’s. There’s something I never thought I’d say. When this film is going well, it’s usually when Offerman is on screen and ripping into Keaton’s Kroc.
The Founder is pretty paint by numbers. It doesn’t really do anything new or tell what is quite a tragic story in a particularly compelling way but it is an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours. Keaton is loathsome, yet Ray Kroc is still probably given an easy ride, and Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch provide the heartbeat of the film.
GOOD. Not as hard hitting as it could, or should, be but nonetheless an entertaining couple of hours thanks to good performances.