The Founder (5/10)
by Tony Medley
Runtime 115 minutes.
OK for children.
Itís hard to believe
that telling the story of what this film pictures as a dishonest,
scumbag like Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) could be as long and boring as
this. Kroc was a mediocre salesman when he discovered the McDonald
brothersí (John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman, in good performances)
hamburger stand in San Bernardino in 1955.
While he saw an
opportunity and worked hard to put it together, this film gives him
little or no credit and pictures him as pretty much an opportunist
trading on the ideas of others. Except for seeing and recognizing the
potential of the operation that the McDonald brothers had put together,
just about all the ideas for making money out of it, according to this
film, came from others.
Well, not exactly.
This is Hollywood and Hollywood doesnít like entrepreneurs, so you canít
blindly believe what you see, especially when you learn that the story
is told from the McDonald brothersí POV. Much of the information came
from Jason French, the grandson of one of the brothers, Dick. French
said, ďThis is unbelievable for our family to have this story being told
and bringing to light how everything came about and how McDonaldís was
formed.Ē So itís hardly a fair and unbiased telling.
In fact, Kroc had a
lot of innovations, like limiting the franchises he sold to single
franchisees instead of selling franchises to an entire area to one
franchisee, which was the common practice at the time. This gave Kroc
more control over his franchisees, especially those who wanted to
The film also implies
that Kroc cruelly divorced his first wife, Ethel (Laura Dern), to marry
Joan Smith (Linda Cardellini). Not true (well, he did divorce her, Iím
just not sure it was as cruel as shown in the movie). Kroc divorced
Ethel in 1961 and was married to Jane Dobbins Green from 1963-68. He
married Smith in 1969, even though she was the wife of a franchisee when
they met in 1958 and apparently carried on a clandestine affair.
You walk out of the
film thinking that Kroc was nothing more than a salesman with a lot of
energy and a good idea who used the ideas of others to build his empire.
Maybe some ideas came from others, but he had his own and, if he did
take ideas from others, he was smart enough to realize how good they
were and good enough to put them into practice.
I like Michael Keaton
but donít think this is close to being his best performance. That might
be due to the script (Robert Siegel) or the directing (John Lee
The problem with the
film is that the first hour moves hardly at all. In the last 55 minutes,
as Kroc becomes more and more successful, the film picks up somewhat as
he descends into a thoroughly despicable character.