By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s review is a documentary-drama-comedy-type-of-thing called The Founder. The Phoenix Leicester screened the film in a late night showing earlier this week to an intrigued crowd.
I say intrigued because the subject matter is extremely well-known, but all the details throughout the tales are not widely known as this movie is based on a true story.
Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch star…
The Founder tells the fascinating history of how fast-food chain McDonald's began -- and became a global brand. We meet Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), a man who has sold anything and everything, and who is constantly on the road trying to find that one business innovation to make his dollar. Whilst selling his latest milkshake invention, he stumbles upon McDonald’s, a successful eatery in California.
We then meet two brothers Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch) who run this little-known McDonald’s restaurant. With a strict burger and fries’ menu, an average waiting time of 30 seconds and a distilled food-prep process – Ray Kroc sees a partnership beckoning to franchise the restaurant.
The Founder is a film of two tales. On one hand, it is telling the history of the McDonald’s franchise and on the other, it is a film about ambition, persistence and ruthlessness. Both the brothers and Ray have very little in common except their mutual love for their restaurant concept. Dick and Mac like the purity and manageable size of their current situation, while Kroc wants enormous profits and world domination. As we all now know, you can guess who wins…
The Founder is entertaining in areas with nostalgia littered throughout. It’s pleasantly modern in terms of the filmmaking, but the run time is unnecessarily long. There’s a lot of waffle throughout that could easily have been left on the cutting room floor. The brilliant acting from Keaton saves The Founder from being a write-off. Thanks to Michael’s charisma and screen-presence, audiences are engaged and learn how the brothers made fatal mistakes.
Keaton once again proves doubters wrong that he can reinvent himself again and again. I think a role like Ray Kroc really suits his humorously-bolshie style of acting. Kroc is driven, rogue and ruthless like any businessman. He’s strangely admirable but certainly alienating. From the outset, Michael lures the audience in to feel sympathetically towards him as he struggles to make ends meet selling his milkshake machines and rightly so. But when his head is turned, we see a greedy and selfish side to him emerge and sadly; it takes over. Some would say it’s very relevant of modern times!
Overall, The Founder is an interesting watch. You learn the history of one of the most influential companies ever to be founded and you also learn how one simple vision can revolutionise the whole world. On the flipside, that vision can also destroy a lot in its way too like a brothers’ dream. The film can stand for a lot in the world today, which is quite frightening really.
Cineroom’s Rating: 3 Stars
The Founder screened at the Phoenix Leicester cinema this week – certificate 12A