The story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned the revolutionary idea of two brothers into a fast food empire that spans the globe and is worth billions, using a combination of ambition, persistence and sheer ruthlessness. It’s a story most people probably don’t know or never really thought about but here it is with Michael Keaton taking on the man himself along with Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, B.J. Novak, Laura Dern and Patrick Wilson. Directed by John Lee Hancock of The Blind Side and Saving Mr Banks.
First and foremost this film is centred around Keaton as Kroc, whereas with his role in Birdman he was an ass but a likable one, this time around he’ll go from likeable to hateable in a relatively short amount of time. The beginning shows us, the down on his luck salesman that stumbles upon a humble restaurant’s amazing idea, wanting to help them realise its potential and slowly wearing the brothers down until they agree. The two brothers show how much hard work went into creating this fine tuned machine into the fastest food anyone had ever seen, with one superb moment of Ray being utterly befuddled by having his order appear merely seconds after he ordered it, convinced that it can’t be his. It’s some good old-fashioned dedication and a great story of what commitment and effort can achieve and it was a crying shame that the rest of the world weren’t getting to experience this ingenious creation, so when Ray comes along dying to do just that, you’re willing for them to say yes, as well as craving McDonald’s.
But when he finally wears them down and starts to create the empire is exactly the point where things take a turn for the despicable, Keaton has played obnoxious characters in the past and yet they’ve remained likeable, Beetlejuice is a disgusting character and yet you can’t help but like him but you will hate Ray Kroc. In creating a successful franchise, Ray Kroc did a better job than anyone could have imagined but the methods you’ll see him take and the detestable person it turns him into, will almost make you want to not visit a McDonald’s just to spite him. Keaton’s performance is great but it’s almost mundane compared to some of his other roles, it doesn’t ask that much of him and though you can occasionally see the sparks audiences will be accustomed to, it sadly is not a constant factor. The story however is undeniably fascinating, it’s extremely interesting to watch how things began because as mentioned already, it’s something a lot of people probably never even wondered about. Despite that however, once the initial stages have past, it becomes rather slow and though the story is interesting, the way in which it’s presented to you as an audience is not particularly captivating; the pace and energy of the film massively decreases. A factor which is not helped by huge problems with its score, it’s almost as if it is entirely separate from the film itself, it doesn’t feel integrated into what you’re seeing. There’s also moments where the editing feels heavy handed giving extended sequences that become slightly irritating and unnecessary. Though on a positive note, the ever wonderful and terrific Nick Offerman is still on top form and unsurprisingly one of the best things the film has to offer.
The Founder is not exactly the most uplifting or inspiring of stories, it will restore your faith in the fact that money will win over respect and principles, which doesn’t feel like a message that needs much help, or one we need. It starts off well but once the film begins to enter its second half things become much slower and slightly repetitive; it’s still a fascinating story but it isn’t the fast talking, risk taking and high-powered film you might be expecting. It’s worth watching but at the same time you probably won’t be in a rush to watch it again.