Film Review: The Founder

Welcome to the American world of corporate take-overs, welcome to the land of inked contracts, cheesy hand-shake agreements, milkshakes and burgers. Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is a struggling traveling proprietor-cum-salesman from Illinois, touring towns, attempting to sell his five-spindled milkshake machine and getting doors slammed in his face – well, most of the time. And when an order is placed for eight of these contraptions, his curiosity leads him into the town in Southern California, where brothers Mac (John Carroll Lynch) and Dick (Nick Offerman) are running a burger joint under the name McDonalds. That was in 1954, when a burger, milkshake and fries set you back for all of 35 cents. The prompt service impressed Kroc enough to take a personal interest in their flourishing business. Within seven years, Kroc has amassed enough money to have on his side legal and financial sharks who help him to buy over the brothers for 2.7 million dollars, besides appropriating their trade name and the legendary yellow M trademark.

The film’s title derives from Kroc’s calling card, after he’s bought over the original McDonald brothers. Early on in the film, we are shown Kroc listening to a motivational record which professes that ‘talent alone has no place in this world – it has to be backed up with persistence and determination’. ‘The Founder’ could well be termed a metaphor for Trump’s America – that it releases in the US on the day of the Presidential Inauguration is another matter. Almost in every frame, the expressive Michael Keaton shines as the loquacious, fist-thumbing Ray Kroc who doesn’t think twice before dumping a loyal spouse (Laura Dern) for his friend’s wife Joan Smith (Linda Cardollini).

It’s all about franchises, real estate and intellectual property rights. Director Hancock extracts some admirable performances from his cast and depicts the contrasting nature of the McDonald brothers well – the amiable and gullible older Mac vis-a-vis the younger perfectionist Dick.

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