The Founder – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

November 15, 2016 by Roz Tarszisz
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You don’t need to have entered a McDonald’s restaurant to appreciate how a hamburger stand became a billion dollar empire.  Director John Lee Hancock (Saving Mr Banks) has brought to life the American success story of the man who saw gold in a beef patty.

It’s 1954 and salesman Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is schlepping commercial milkshake machines around the mid-West.  It ‘s a struggle to get sales and when his secretary tells him that a single burger joint in Southern California has ordered six machines, it’s so unusual that he drives across the country to see for himself.

McDonald’s is a highly successful hamburger stand. At drive-ins it usually took 30 minutes to get a burger but Kroc is astounded when his meal is handed to him in 30 seconds.  Dick McDonald (Nick Offerman) and brother Mac (John Carroll Lynch) are proud of their revolutionary operation and show Kroc around.

Eventually he talks them into going into partnership with him whereby he signs up franchisees –  and he is very successful at this.   The brothers would like to slow down the speed of growth, but Kroc sees the burger biz as his shot at the big time and nothing is going to stop him.

 As Dick tells Mac “The wolf is in the hen-house, and we let him in.”

His relationship with wife Ethel (Laura Dern) is full of tension and it’s no surprise when he asks her a divorce. The instant he falls for the lovely Joan Smith (Linda Cardellini), wife of prospective franchisee Rollie (Patrick Wilson), he shift gears. Linda shares his passion for business and that’s what they discuss during late night phone calls.

Despite his success in bringing in new stores, Kroc isn’t making money.  When financial man Harry Sonneborn (B.J. Novak) advises that he should be buying the land on which the restaurants stand, it changes everything.  After some tricky manoeuvering, he buys out the brothers and transforms the business into the brand which represents America globally.

I loved everything about this film – from the recreation of a simpler time, good script to strong performances.  Keaton is riveting and has managed to equal, if not top, his performance in Birdman.

The twin golden arches are the emblem of McDonald’s and the modern driving beat of Glitter and Gold by Barns Courtney is a perfect soundtrack number – no sappy ’50s tunes here.

4.5/5  115 mins  Rated M  Released November 24

Starring Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Laura Dern, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, B.J. Novak

Directed by John Lee Hancock

Written by Robert Siegel

 

 

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