• Guy Jeffries

The Founder Review


Director: John Lee Hancock.

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

Whether you're lovin' it or hatin' it, pretty much everyone has eaten a McDonalds at least once in their lifetime. Myself, probably more than I would care to admit, being a self proclaimed nugget king and burgergrammer (check out #nowthatsonetastyburger on Instagram and you see my love for cheeseburgers.)

So, they've made a film about the origins of the largest fast food restaurant brand in the world. There has already been a small number of documentary films like Super Size Me and McLibel that cooks up a rather negative view of MaccyDs. But this one, being a theatrical feature, is about the people behind the birth of an empire. Another true origin story like Steve Jobs and The Social Network, and I say like those, because it isn't exactly a happy humble beginning.

John Lee Hancock, probably best known for directing Sandra Bullock's Oscar winning, emotional drama, The Blind Side and another film about a famous brand name, Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks. Incidentally, Mr. Disney and Mr Kroc were friends during their rise to fame and fortune.

Impressively, Hancock shot this whole film in just an astonishing 22 days and at 8-10hr days as oppose to the usual minimum 12hr expected by production companies. Maybe he took a little too much from the idea of fast food, making a fast film.

The story focuses on Ray Kroc, a struggling business salesman looking for the next viable venture when fate steps in and has the McDonald brothers call him for some milkshake blenders that he's selling. Basically the brothers, using production line methods invented fast food and revolutionised the restaurant business across the states, an innovation Kroc had to be apart of with an ambition of going large. Thus, the business partnership is formed with Kroc being the franchise manager that would help shape the brand into what it is today. A multibillion dollar corporation with more than 36,000 outlets across the globe! In 119 different countries to be precise, servicing more than 68million people a day! It's become a symbol of globalisation and a strong advert for the American Way of life. There's rarely an airport, theme park or major transport terminal that doesn't have a McDonald's, with towns being considered Stone Age if lacking one. But like I said before, this isn't really a happy meal.

Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, to what I can only imagine to be a great portrayal knowing Keaton's methods of mimicking his real life roles to a scary, accurate degree as stated by Robby Robinson, the editor Keaton played in last year's Spotlight, quoting "It is like watching yourself in a mirror, yet having no control of the mirror image." Keaton watched and studied reels of video and interview footage of Kroc so to get his voice patterns and mannerisms right.

Unfortunately, the same goes for the brothers, not knowing how true to life Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch were to Dick and Mac McDonald, (Richard and Maurice if you must know). I remember Lynch mostly from James Foley's Confidence where he plays an almost similar mark. I hope they have done the brothers justice as they both do very well playing the part of entrepreneurial brothers who are just not nasty enough for the larger world.

The fast production might show some flaws, having the film appear rushed or poorly balanced but Keaton's performance does well to hold it all together keeping much of the focus on him. In fact, it's more about Croc than cheeseburgers. McDonald's actually takes a back seat for majority of the movie. I can't say they're like this film but there's certain character parallels from Wolf of Wall Street, Wall Street and even this year's Gold, sharing the same relentless greed.

It's an entertaining story of how the empire was born, how ruthless business can be and birth of an incredible idea, giving me a newfound appreciation for the brand and the standards it strived by, the concept of the whole operation that went on to revolutionise the fast food business. It was strangely inspiring and yes, I went and got a cheeseburger straight afterwards, though not a McDonald's. There's some nuggets of greatness here but it's not the extra value meal I ordered, why does it never look as good as what it does in the trailer.

I wonder what other brand origin stories could be churned into an entertaining film, what corporations would you like to see as movie? Starbucks? Coca Cola? Nike maybe? Or even Nintendo? One I would love to see made into a movie, off the back of this one, would be KFC, the colonel having quite a colourful and turbulent background before selling his famous fried chicken at the age of 60+. Who could play him?

Running Time: 7

The Cast: 9

Performance: 9

Direction: 8

Story: 8

Script: 7

Creativity: 8

Soundtrack: 5

Job Description: 7

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

Would I buy the Blu-ray?: Yes. If I get a free toy.

68% 7/10

#JohnLeeHancock #MichaelKeaton #NickOfferman #JohnCarrollLynch #LindaCardellini #BJNovak #LauraDern #PatrickWilson #CarterBurwell