a THE FOUNDER musing

THE FOUNDER opens on the face of Michael Keaton, playing Ray Kroc, as he makes a pitch for his Multimixer for milkshakes, subsequently and continuously shot down by many clients. The trajectory of the story is seen in many other films, like THE SOCIAL NETWORK and THERE WILL BE BLOOD, that track the successes and failures of a businessman. THE FOUNDER lacks the willingness to delve deep into the darkness of Ray Kroc’s actions, content to let the sunny cinematography carry the movie but still keep the Hollywood sheen of most biopics out of the picture. Perfectly cast, it’s anchored by an extraordinarily strong performance from Michael Keaton, with better-than-average direction from John Lee Hancock and a great script.

Had this movie explored the savage actions of Kroc more extensively, it could have been nominated for an Oscar and catapulted it into award conversation. (I’m surprised Keaton wasn’t even considered!) There’s a lot of missed opportunities here, including the dark nature of the story, but one glaring issue could have made this more interesting. Ray’s wife, played by Laura Dern, has no outside concerns nor purpose other than being his wife. No human being doesn’t have a want, and is so dependent on Ray, it’s borderline disrespectful towards women. This is Ray’s story, but wouldn’t their inevitable divorce have hit harder if we actually cared or liked her? Or even knew her name?

Other than that, THE FOUNDER is full of great moments and keeps the train rolling right along successfully. Real life pictures from McDonald’s early history are flashed to during a conversation, symbols pointed out earlier in the movie are subtly brought back in important moments, shots are composed beautifully. You care about what Ray Kroc does because you understand him and why he does these horrible betrayals to the McDonald brothers, and Keaton is so good at showing that and being a weasly guy. Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch, who play the McDonald brothers, bring baggage of being lovable guys that you really feel their hurt. All around a great movie that is better than a traditional rise-and-fall biopic.


(Refer to my rating system HERE!)