Friday, August 04, 2017

The Founder: A Phenomenal Story and a Commanding Performance

Movie Review: The Founder (2016)
Version: Library borrow

Sit back and be prepared to be floored by The Founder, the movie and the performance.

It's 1954 and drive-in restaurants -- what we would call junk food havens today -- were the "in" thing across America. The only problem was, they attracted a bad element: rebellious, unruly teens. And for the customers, they were slow and undependable on service. Ray Kroc was a salesman most of his life with a face and pitch most targets of his "charm" could remember, and he was crossing the Midwest selling five-spindle milkshake makers, with no one buying. And then, suddenly, he got an order for six, in San Bernadino, California. So Ray drove out to San Bernadino in his dusty, rusty DeSoto to check out this McDonald's drive-in restaurant and discovered a miracle of innovation and great food with speedy service. He wanted in! Dick and Mac McDonald were skeptical, but Ray put on the charm and with persistence, talked them into franchising their local successful business model across the country. And so the story of The Founder of McDonald's begins.

Michael Keaton puts on a command performance as the tired aging salesman who has tried just about every gimmick to find "the big one" that will make him rich, then nails it through blind ambition, dogged persistence, and sheer ruthlessness. The McDonald brothers, played by Nick Offerman as Dick and John Carroll Lynch as Mac, weren't prepared for the force of nature that was Ray Kroc, and he eats them up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with Keaton playing all the parts with absolute brilliance. Why he wasn't nominated for an Oscar for this role, I have no idea. As the tale starts out Kroc is a likable enough character, struggling to make a sale, disappointed in what life serves up to him. Mid-way through you begin to sense Kroc has become obsessed and is in over his head, and you feel for him. But by the end, he becomes a despicable fiend. The McDonald brothers, at first sticklers for staying true to their vision and intransigent to any change, become pawns to Kroc's mercenary schemes and in the end the victims. 

I don't know how much of this story is true and how much is screenwriter's license to make the film more interesting, but if it's half as true as in real life, unless you are a true dog-eat-dog capitalist at heart, I guarantee you will come away despising Ray Kroc after watching The Founder. I certainly wasn't prepared for the revelations. But you will be amazed at the original McDonalds' innovations and dogged faith to the genius of what they had created. 

There are other side plots to the story that I won't get into here that make the story equally intriguing, along with the actors who played them out. Together, they tell the story of the founding of McDonalds Corporation and the people who made it one of the most successful franchises in America -- in the world. 

I can say, without a doubt, you should see this film. For Keaton's commanding performance if not to learn the story behind bringing you your neighborhood McDonald's. It's a phenomenal story.

No comments: