The Founder

Film, Drama
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The Founder

This well-acted account of the businessman who built McDonald's into a powerful fast-food chain is a tasty snack but could have done with some supersizing

The title of this burger-based biopic drips with irony: businessman Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) may have sold himself as the founder of the McDonald's empire, but the truth was a little different. Kroc was an on-the-road milkshake mixer salesman when he stumbled across the McDonald brothers and their Speedee Service System, a fast-food assembly line that would revolutionise the restaurant industry. In the ensuing years, Kroc oversaw the spread of McDonald's franchises across the US, transforming a modest California burger joint into one of the world’s largest food corporations.

At heart, this is yet another story of an ambitious man who gains the world but loses his soul (shots of Kroc framed at his desk like Al Pacino in ‘The Godfather Part II’ hammer the point home). The cast is uniformly superb: Keaton is all slick surface charm and underlying bulldog snarl as Kroc, while Laura Dern suffers in silence as his decent wife Ethel. The two liveliest performances come from Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch as Dick and Mac McDonald, the down-home brothers whose efforts to keep Kroc on a short leash are doomed to failure.

As a study of amoral ambition and corporate cruelty, this is undoubtedly timely, and the script smartly pokes holes in notions of ‘be all you can be’ American exceptionalism. But both the 1950s suburban setting and Kroc’s avaricious trajectory are just too familiar: there’s nothing here we didn’t see in ‘Mad Men’, and 'Saving Mr Banks’ director John Lee Hancock never manages to make it feel new. Like the product that inspired it, ‘The Founder’ is tasty enough while it lasts but never quite fills you up.

By: Tom Huddleston

Posted:

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday February 17 2017
Duration: 115 mins

Cast and crew

Director: John Lee Hancock
Screenwriter: Robert D. Siegel
Cast: Michael Keaton
Laura Dern
Linda Cardellini

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
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LiveReviews|6
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Tastemaker

I was going on holiday to USA and travelling on a train journey which went through San Bernardino and heard that this is where McDonalds was invented.  When I found out that The Founder was showing on the plane on the way to USA, I decided that I had to watch it.


I had no idea about this story before, so it starts off with Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) being impressed with the efficient way that the McDonalds brothers are serving their fast food and getting involved with building the business.  It seemed at this point like a story of a serial failure made good as we started to see the business grow and there's no spoilers in knowing that McDonalds has grown as a business very well!  However it all turns sour as Kroc becomes more desperate just to make money and expand the business as opposed to the brothers who want to keep the same high standards of every new restaurant.  He does the dirty on them and ends up taking over.  If this was a fictional film, he would get his come-uppance and everyone would live happily ever after, but unfortunately, in real life, it doesn't happen quite as we'd hoped it would.


It was a very good film and well acted, just hard to take that someone could be that mean.

tastemaker

This was an interesting story of Ray Kroc. The film was excellent where all the characters were so well developed. I really felt for the McDonald brothers and Kroc’s wife. I didn’t know the story prior seeing the movie and didn’t realise I’d come away thinking how scummy Kroc turned out, where he seemed to take advantage of those around him. It was a brilliant film on a not so nice man of business.

tastemaker

Adjectives to describe this film? Fine. Inoffensive. As middle-of-the-road as they come.

Although the story that it tells in interesting the way it's told doesn't live up to its potential. Unquestionably well-acted yet not told with bite or edge such a story is capable of. Disappointing. 

tastemaker

Fantastic movie about what making business can be about, about a business developer as there are hundreds of others: Kroc discovers by chance the tiny MacDonald restaurant and understands the goldmine he has just found. He wants to scale at any cost, for him it is all about how to increase profit and extend his footprint on the country. Keaton is exceptional as this twisted business man who just wants to finally make it after a series of failed businesses and who is willing to risk it all. Great insights on the why MacDonald is the way it is today. A must-watch!

Tastemaker

This film was so infuriating. It's hard to not mark it down because of what a crook Ray Kroc was! He managed to push the actual McDonald brothers out of owning McDonalds, and didn't even let them keep their own name. Horrible man. 

tastemaker

Funny how you can go off someone. I'm not a fan of fast food generally and certainly not of McDonalds specifically but having seen The Founder, I am delighted I don't frequent these restaurants. The story of the rise of McDonalds is not a happy one; two caring American brothers created the original 'fast food'. Indeed, why wait thirty minutes when you can have your food in thirty seconds. Food created with thought and a small business with a heart. Real food for real people. With the arrival of travelling salesman, Ray Kroc, (Micheal Keaton), the brothers' lives changed forever. Kroc knew a good idea when he saw one and was determined to make as much money out of it as he possibly could via deals, contracts and hand shakes. By the end of the film, my heart had gone out to the McDonald brothers. Ray Kroc, the founder of the multi-national corporation seemed just another business man, happy to run over anyone who he felt stood in his way. A well-cast film that left a bitter taste in my mouth.