Keaton steals the show in ‘The Founder’

“The Founder” was directed by John Lee Hancock and written by Robert Siegel. (Courtesy of the Weinstein Company)

Eric Smith
Connector Contributor

“The Founder” is a true story about greed, money and deceit starring Michael Keaton as Ray Krock, the man who franchised the famous fast food company we all know as McDonalds.

Dick McDonald (Nick Offerman) and Mac McDonald (John Carroll Lynch) started the original McDonalds in San Bernardino, Calif. with the goal of making a classic, wholesome family restaurant with no gimmicks, all natural beef and milkshakes.

However, when Ray Krock, a persistent ice cream mixer salesman, shows his interest in their restaurant, he franchises it and takes it to a whole new level, often going beyond the brothers’ wishes. We see how he steals ideas from the original founders and how he gains from the success of McDonald’s. This affects Dick and Mac McDonald’s lives, as well as Krock’s marriage to Ethel Krock (Laura Dern).

Keaton performed exceptionally as he does in almost anything he is in, and does a stellar job of making the audience despise Krock as the film goes on. From the start, screenwiter Robert Siegel and director John Lee Hancock make viewers almost feel bad for him as his job as a salesman is continually going nowhere, only to then see how he manipulates the original founders to gain for himself.

However, the film is unbiased and does not necessarily attempt to make the audience dislike him, nor does it praise him either. Siegel allows us to develop our own personal ideas of Krock. It is easy to find him absolutely infuriating by the time the credits roll, but that does not take away from the film’s quality at all.
After Kroc makes McDonald’s his own and starts cutting the founders out of the deal, the restaurant slowly becomes more and more unhealthy.

Unfortunately, the McDonald’s one knows today is not the same McDonalds in San Bernardino back in 1937. “The Founder” gives a glimpse into how this started and an explanation of why it has become the go-to fast food chain it is today.

There is plenty of comic relief in the film to divert away from making the viewer too angry. “The Founder” is mainly a drama, but the comedic aspects lighten the mood and lets viewers get in a laugh once in a while. Nick Offerman was a perfect pick to play Dick McDonald, as he is mainly a comedic actor and is known mostly for his humor.

The film has a couple messages for its viewers. Siegel points out that persistence is an excellent method for success, especially when it comes to franchising a company. However, money can make people do unspeakable things like steal a multi-million-dollar fast food restaurant concept in order to gain for your own profit.

While it is no Oscar-winning masterpiece, “The Founder” is entertaining enough to grab one’s attention and interest. If the story of how McDonald’s came to be the most famous fast food chain in the country is of interest, this film is a must-see.

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