Everyone knows McDonald’s, everyone’s probably eaten at a McDonald’s. Doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you are most likely to find the burger joint with the yellow M. The story of the gigantic corporation’s expansion is a true tragedy, and is recounted, with a bit of ignorance, in The Founder.
The Founder is the true story of how Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), a down in the dumps salesman, managed to usurp McDonald’s fast food restaurant from the founding brothers: Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch). What Kroc saw was an incredible system not dissimilar to Henry Ford’s conveyor invention, where every employee has one simple task to execute. The result is a speedy creation of food and drink; something completely revolutionary in the 1950s. Kroc seeing the potential of this system decides to invest, but soon his scope becomes national and he sees the brothers as a hindrance to his domination of the burger world. Thus he proceeds to betray them using shifty legal means.
The main problem here is that director John Lee Hancock wants to tell the story from Kroc’s perspective, but he confuses perspective with tone. The film has a very cheerful mood that doesn’t fit the corporate back-stabbings going on in the film. In fact, when Hancock addresses Kroc’s mindful stealing of the McDonald’s brand, he tries to show a very sympathetic Kroc to the McDonald brothers, something that unbelievably taken out of context. Kroc should be shown as a cheater and a liar (he ends up calling himself “the Founder” hence the title), but instead we go on a tour as the filmmakers try and make his decisions seem reasonable.
One thing that surprisingly bothered me as well was the music. Composer Carter Burwell is very talented at his craft, I’ve enjoyed many of his other soundtracks the most recent being Carol; but in The Founder he completely distorts the aura of the film with incredibly goofy music, something better fit in a cartoon, and you just can’t help think what sort of misguidance triggered this quip.
But if the film does have something going for it, it’s that it was very well cast. From the leads to the supporting players two of which stood out being Laura Dern and Linda Cardellini, who play Kroc’s two wives. In fact, both actresses were such a presence on screen that if the film had focused more on their relationship with Kroc, we would have seen a more humanized version of him.
But in the end The Founder was a bit of a letdown, the true story was truly incredible, but the perspective from which it has been told in this film, is truly discouraging, making cheating and stealing seem ‘ok.’