The Founder (2016) starring Michael Keaton
The Founder is a story about turning McDonald’s into a national, and international, restaurant chain. It’s a story that is very unflattering to Ray Kroc.
Something that I learned a long time ago is that Hollywood does a terrible job of telling accurate biographies. I sincerely hope that’s the case for The Founder. It’s an extremely unflattering story, that makes Ray Kroc an absolute villain. Although he doesn’t start that way.
He starts as a salesman, trying to sell milkshake machines to fast food restaurants. With very limited success. But then, he gets an order for six of them. And the customers increase it to eight. So, he decides to visit them, and see what’s up. What he finds there changes the course of his life — and in a minor way, American life.
Dick McDonald: There’s a wolf in the hen-house. We let him in.
In a sense, that’s very true. The McDonald’s brothers bring Ray Kroc on, in an attempt to expand their business via franchising. And he has a much larger vision than the brothers. And, he’s not above ruthlessness.
Ray Kroc: While you two boys were content to sit back and become a couple of also-rans… I wanna take the future. I wanna win. And you don’t get there by being some “aw shucks” guy sap. There’s no place in business for people like that. Business is war. It’s dog eat dog, rat eat rat. If my competitor were drowning, I’d walk over and put a hose right in his mouth. Can you say the same?
Mac McDonald: [pause] I can’t. Nor would I want to.
Ray Kroc: Hence, your single location.
In a real sense, it’s the story of a slow corruption of a man. And Michael Keaton does a wonderful performance. It’s well worth watching. The only caveats are language warning, and the possible inaccuracies of the story.
Cast of characters
- Michael Keaton (Batman (1989)) … Ray Kroc. The salesman, on a slow path to corruption — and power.
- Nick Offerman (Hotel Transylvania 2) … Dick McDonald
- John Carroll Lynch … Mac McDonald
- Linda Cardellini … Joan Smith
- B.J. Novak … Harry J. Sonneborn
- Laura Dern (Jurassic Park) … Ethel Kroc. Ray’s wife. He mortgages their house — without telling her — to finance the business. And, despite her support and love, he starts romancing another woman. The wife of one of his franchisees.
- Justin Randell Brooke … Fred Turner
- Kate Kneeland … June Martino
- Patrick Wilson … Rollie Smith
- Griff Furst … Jim Zien
- Wilbur Fitzgerald … Jerry Cullen
- David de Vries … Jack Horford
- Andrew Benator … Leonard Rosenblatt
- Cara Mantella … Myra Rosenblatt
In 1954, ever-hustling restaurant supply salesman Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) was taken with the efficiency of operation that brothers Mac and Dick McDonald (John Carroll Lynch, Nick Offerman) brought to their California burger stop. The determination with which he turned McDonald’s into the benchmark of food franchising-and the ruthless way with which he ultimately squeezed the siblings out of their eponymous business-is tellingly recounted in this not-always-flattering portrait of an American success story; Laura Dern, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson also star. 115 min. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English.