8/10/17

THE FOUNDER - REVIEW


Michael Keaton's long overdue comeback is still on the right path as The Founder gives the actor yet another great role for him to sink his teeth into. He plays Ray Kroc, the man who saw the McDonald's brand back in the 50's and just knew he had to have it.

This is one biopic that could have gone either way. The Founder could have easily just been an extended ad for the fast food chain or a highly critical look at it but this isn't so much a film about McDonald's as it is about the American Dream and how chasing it has its pluses and minuses. We first meet Ray Kroc as he struggles to sell milkshake mixers to various diners. He's married, lives in a nice house yet he feels like something is missing. It's when he discovers the first McDonald's restaurant, promising meals in 30 seconds instead of the half-hour it takes to get anything at a drive-in, that he has an epiphany. This strikes him as an idea too good not to expand all across America but the McDonald brothers Mac (John Carroll Lynch) and Dick (Nick Offerman) are reluctant to try such a significant business move as it might impact the overall quality of the meals and, by extension, the brand. Kroc eventually convinces them to let him deal with both the expansion and the quality control. Unfortunately, Kroc went all in money-wise when trying to start up lots more restaurants so, financially, he becomes desperate and soon demands more of a share in the company.

This leads to him getting increasingly sneaky and greedy with the McDonald brothers slowly but surely losing control of the brand they worked so hard to create. Ray Kroc is a fascinating character in that he's both an inspiring success story but also the embodiment of everything wrong with the business world. He's likeable when he's trying to improve his life and selling a product but as soon as he sees an opportunity to capitalise on someone else's idea, he jumps in with both feet and does whatever it takes to make the most of it, so he's pretty crafty. Even though you feel throughout like Mac and Dick should have probably protected their brand a little better and not trusted some guy who just walked in off the street 100%, Kroc's gradual and total appropriation of McDonald's turns him into a truly selfish and unpleasant individual. This is a really interesting look at greed, inspiration and the pursuit of happiness. Michael Keaton delivers a terrific, nuanced performance as Kroc so the Oscar snub was ridiculous. Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch are also both really good as the McDonald brothers. Slight nitpick, when it cuts to the 70's, Ray Kroc looks pretty much exactly the same as he did in the 50's so it's a bit like Michael Keaton was a vampire this whole time.

If you're not sure whether to try The Founder now that it's finally popped-up on Netflix, don't hesitate any longer: it's one of the better biopics in recent years, a solid movie all around and Michael Keaton is, once again, on top form.

Recommended.

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