The Founder

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Founder
"Understanding the flaws in a character who respects the capitalist ideal while denying the danger of outsourcing integrity is a hard sell"

Making a film about the history of McDonalds looks like supersized product placement. In fact, there is more to this story than who sold a cheeseburger with fries and a fizzy drink at a price that didn't burn a hole in your jeans.

What's not to like in the skinny Fifties when drive-ins were the dinner date option for teens?

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Legend has it that brothers Mac and Dick McDonald recognised the inefficiency of the drive-in experience and decided to improve on it with a whole new concept. Instead of waiting in your car for a waitress to bring your order, which may have been wrong, late or cold, you queued at a window at Mac and Dick's place where the menu was limited to burgers, shakes and cola and within less than a minute your meal arrived in a bag.

Efficiency, quality control, speed.

When salesman Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) dropped by to flog the brothers the latest in high tech milkshake machines, he was given a tour of the premises and did it look like dollars in a bun, or did it? Ray was a talker but he had more on his plate than a side order of bull. He had belief. He could see the future.

"Increase supply and demand follows."

The brothers were not used to this kind of fast forward thinking. They liked to take their time. Make it right and take it slow. Ray had the answer and the answer was franchises. They signed him up, gave him a contract.

"McDonalds is family," he guffed. "It puts an arm around the American dream."

Ray believed in opportunity, persistence and doggone hard work. His wife (Laura Dern) became a casualty of his success, as did Mac and Dick.

"There's a wolf in the hen house and we let him in."

The film is relevant. In a world dedicated to business and smart lawyers the good guys are bought and sold as if their innovative ideas are but chips on a roulette table and it's the dealers and wheelers who rake in the profits.

Keaton is comfortable in a role that might have been played by Richard Dreyfuss in the old days. He inhabits the mind set of Ray Kroc and does not milk the humour. This is acting of the highest. Understanding the flaws in a character who respects the capitalist ideal while denying the danger of outsourcing integrity is a hard sell.

The Big Mac never became The Big Kroc. When asked why not Ray said it was in the name. Macdonalds is America. Krock is swamp meat.

He knew his onions.

Reviewed on: 10 Feb 2017
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The Founder packshot
The story of the man who turned McDonald's from a single store into a global franchise.

Director: John Lee Hancock

Writer: Robert Siegel

Starring: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Laura Dern, Linda Cardellini, B.J. Novak, Justin Randell Brooke, Patrick Wilson, Kate Kneeland

Year: 2016

Runtime: 115 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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