The Founder (2016)

Biography, Drama, History | 115 min

Our Review

Ah, the golden arches that have spread themselves so tightly around the globe that it seems almost unnatural to imagine the world without them. A biographical look into the life of Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) who made McDonald’s into a national franchise and discarded its original owners with a brutal land ownership scheme. John Lee Hancock is no stranger to biographical films, once again, he delivers an entertaining insight.

It kicks off with Kroc wandering from restaurant to restaurant, trying to sell his milkshake machine that can make multiple milkshakes at the same time. However, no one really seems to be interested in him. Undeterred he listens to a self-help vinyl at night and wakes up with the same rigour and determination that it takes to be successful. One day he gets a call from a restaurant ordering eight of the machines. There seems to be a mistake, and he becomes intrigued. He takes a drive and meets the owners who show him around, letting him see their revolutionary way of selling quick and easy food. Blown away, Kroc leaves with their business floating around in his head. He returns to them with a few ideas of his own.

Eventually, the McDonald brothers buy into his big ideas, and he forms a partnership with them that was doomed from the start. Things start to get out of hand when Kroc starts making demands. We also catch glimpses of his own personal life, in which he has a marriage that always seems to
be at the bottom of the list of things to work on from Kroc who cares more about his business ideas. Throughout there is a huge ethical problem with how he handles business: a kind of dog-eat-dog world in which he has no problem downing his opponents. The savagery and greed of his character consume anything good about his personality that flips our feelings towards him by the end of the film. At the start, we are rooting for him, but soon we despise the person he has become. But it entirely depends on how everyone looks at it and if they share the same values. He clearly puts himself first before anything.

This leaves the film with two different perspectives that one could see it in. I’m sure entrepreneurs, especially in America will see this film as inspiration and Kroc as a role model. Then there is the other side which will probably condemn him for being so self-absorbed and heartless. Either way, it is a good watch that has many wonderful insights into the history of the franchise. It’s also worth knowing what goes in the milkshakes.


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