The Founder (PG-13)

The Founder, starring Michael Keaton, tells the story of how McDonald’s fast food restaurant “founder” Ray Kroc singlehandedly not only stole the entire concept of the McDonald’s brothers’ restaurant; but how he put the business on the map and eventually (quite purposefully, with zeal and glee), put the original founding brothers out of business for good.

This story is just about as American as it gets. A struggling salesman comes across an idea that he can envision becoming a huge opportunity for wealth.  With cold-blooded ambition and persistence he succeeds.  Robert D. Siegel did a great job writing this story, keeping the movie focused and the story moving forward. You simultaneously admire Kroc for his ambition and despise him for the ruthlessness with which he carries it out.  You pull for the little guy, the McDonald brothers, even though you know they’re doomed.  This movie is really quite well done.  John Lee Hanckock does a fine job directing as Ray travels across the country and back in pursuit of this far-fetched dream that comes together with quite a few bumps along the way.  He tackles one obstacle, then the next, then the next, until he is sitting on top of the world, or so it seems.  You’re cheering for him to succeed until… well, you’ll see.

The cinematography was lovely. The set design, props, makeup, hair and clothing were all well done and true to the 1950’s.  You may feel nostalgic for an era long gone when you see what now seems like ancient tools people used to get around and to communicate.  I mean, just imagine travelling cross-country by car without a cell phone!  How did people survive!?

If you are a fan of Shark Tank you will love this movie. The entire evolution of this small business into an international giant is pretty inspirational.  Although it didn’t turn out quite as the McDonald brothers planned, the movie has many lessons embedded pertaining to business and life and the nature of people vs. big business.  It is a step-by-step tutorial of what not to do if you want to remain in control of your business and how sometimes it is best to be satisfied with keeping the scale of business small; a true cautionary tale if ever there were one.  But in Kroc’s case, this movie plays out like McDonald’s and the fortune that came with it was his destiny – or he made it his destiny, at any rate.

Michael Keaton is becoming “That Dude.” He is consistently delivering, knows his strengths and weaknesses, picks interesting roles in interesting projects, and naturally, is becoming more effortless with his acting.  Mr. Mom, Beetlejuice, up to and including Birdman – I cannot think of one thing he’s done that I can say I didn’t enjoy; or at the very least, where I didn’t enjoy his performance.  And yes.  I will admit it.  I even enjoyed his Batman.  Don’t judge me…

That being said, Keaton pulls it out again as Ray Kroc; a shrewd businessman who is hell bent on success by any means once he gets his first taste of it. And the way Keaton portrays the evolution of this man from door to door salesman to corporate titan is commendable.  You love him and you hate him, and Keaton makes you believe it all.  Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch are perfectly cast and do an outstanding job as the McDonald brothers.

The Founder earned 8.5 out of 10 bloops. It’s a great movie that shouldn’t be missed.  I learned some things I had no idea about from the story.  I was never bored; I didn’t check my watch or look at my phone one time.  There were a couple of laughs and some painful, head-shaking moments.  If there was a cuss word in it I don’t recall what it was, although I’m sure there was probably one or two.  Still, it is mostly-family friendly with a PG-13 rating.  The acting was solid as was everything put forth by the entire team.

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 Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

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