The fastest way to get to the top is by standing on the backs of others, Ray Kroc discovered this and used it to become one of the most successful businessmen this country has ever known. John Lee Hancock (Saving Mrs. Banks) directs Oscar nominated actor Michael Keaton as the man who brought McDonald’s to every hometown in America.
Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is a traveling salesman who currently specializes in selling Prince Castle brand milkshake makers. Life on the road has been a struggle for Ray, each day he visits restaurants and drive-ins across the Midwest finding more resistance to his sales pitch than enthusiastic buyers. He has a comfortable life back home in Illinois with his wife Ethel (Laura Dern) and a simple but comfortable living, but success to do something great keeps driving Ray back to the road to find his legacy. A chance order from the McDonald’s brothers in San Bernadino, CA will change his life forever.
Ray meets with the two brothers who own and operate the establishment, Maurice “Mac” McDonald (John Carroll Lynch) and Richard “Dick” McDonald (Nick Offerman), who have created an innovative way of supplying hamburgers to the public. Awestruck by their creation, Ray convinces the brothers to let him take their McDonald’s idea nationally, and this is where the real story begins. Through all the struggle, the persistence of Ray Kroc leads to success and his control of the franchise’s present and future. The evolution into one of the most powerful men in business was paved with betrayal, cunning and ingenuity, which makes the story dramatically unfold.
Michael Keaton’s enthusiasm and delivery bring Kroc’s persona to life in a near perfect way. Throughout the film, we witness the transformation of a person starved to prove himself to a person drunk on success and whether you love him or hate him, he got there his way. John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman are wonderful as the McDonald’s brothers. Each step of their rise and fall is felt in their portrayal of the characters and you can’t help but cringe as their decimation unfolds. The story centers around the tense relationship between the brothers and Kroc and these actors bring a wonderful mix of humor and drama to help make this story as mesmerizing as it is.
Overall, The Founder is an interesting tale of the rise of McDonald’s and men who brought the “Golden Arches” to the country. It’s a sad look at the glutton of success and repulsive effects it has on those in the way. The performances make this film worth the journey.
3 out of 5