One word, persistence
When you think of McDonald’s, what comes to mind? The Big Mac, McNuggets, Royale with cheese, The McGangBang (that’s actually a thing and it’s delicious), well we all have one man to thank for these tasty treats and that’s Ray Kroc. The Founder is quite the fascinating story, I’m not sure if people truly know the backstory of how McDonald’s came to be. I’ll put it this way; this is the Social Network movie for McDonald’s. Obviously not as good (Social Network is one of the best movies in the past decade) but it tells the story of how McDonald’s started, and just like the Social Network showed, sometimes business can get nasty. Ray Kroc definitely did not study business ethics.
The Founder stars the great Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the man who had a vision for what McDonalds could ultimately become. The year was 1954 and Kroc was a down on his luck milkshake mixer salesmen, going from diner to diner in the Midwest giving the same chicken or the egg sales pitch with no luck. Then one day Kroc gets a phone call that changes his life forever. A restaurant called McDonald’s in San Bernardino California wants 8 mixers and Ray is flabbergasted at the possibility that a restaurant can make that many milkshakes in a day. Curious, Ray travels down to San Bernardino to see this for himself and the moment he sets his eyes on McDonald’s, well let’s just say its love at first site. There he meets Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch) McDonald, where they introduce him to their speedy system, which promises their customers service in under 30 seconds. Kroc is immediately intrigued by all of this and wants to be part of it. The casting was perfect for both brothers, especially Nick Offermans character. He played the hard-nosed brother who really took charge in the operation. Ray tells the brothers that it’s time to “FRANCHISE, FRANCHISE, FRANCHISE,” this thing because he believes that McDonalds can be the next great American church. I loved how the movie displayed the passion, love and care the McDonald brothers had for their business. They were obsessed with quality control, and believed that having an overall better product was simply better than having a ton of restaurants where they couldn’t control day-to-day operations. The brothers finally give in to Ray’s persistence and let him become head of franchising. At first Ray is having a hard time finding investors and finds himself losing money rather than making it. Butting heads along the way with the brothers, about where this business should go and how to go about doing it.
This is where Ray starts to go about things in his own way, by not necessarily cutting corners, but by doing things in the Kroc way rather than the McDonald way. Ray is a businessman through and through, but his obsession starts to interfere with his home life, things with his wife, Ethel (Laura Dern) gets worse and worse and Ray starts to drink more and more. When the brothers start to catch on to what Ray is really up to, they are saddened that he would try to come between them and the thing they hold most dear to their hearts. All they wanted was to run a great restaurant where families could come to have a good time and enjoy a nice meal together. They didn’t care so much about the financial aspect of the business, where that’s all Ray concentrated on. Having signed a contract, Ray was prohibited to make any changes to McDonald’s until Dick and Mac approved it. Until one day, Ray figured out that he was no longer in the restaurant business but the real estate business. Everything changes after this, and if it wasn’t for that conclusion, McDonald’s might not be what it is today.
Overall the cast was great, Keaton has been a role lately, just crushing it again in The Founder. This is Ray Kroc’s’ story and to be honest it was hard to root for the guy sometimes because he wasn’t the nicest guy. I’m being nice in saying that, Ray Kroc was an asshole. The casting of both Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch worked out so well, to me it really felt like they were brothers. I’m a big fan of Offerman so it’s nice to finally see him in a more serious role, showing off his acting chops. John Carroll Lynch is the classic (you don’t know who that is, but if you see a picture, you’re like OH THAT GUY) so Google him now to prove my point. He was also great in this movie, as the somewhat more laid back of the two brothers, who just wanted to make a great hamburger. John Lee Hancock (Blind Side) is the director, and he just knows how to tell a really good story. The Founder also had a really great 50’s vibe to it; it made me miss the fact that you could get a hamburger for 15 cents back then. My only gripe with this movie was in some spots it was a little dull, and I at the end of the movie I didn’t know how I felt about Ray Kroc. Sometimes you just have to be ruthless in business, and if it weren’t for him McDonald’s simply wouldn’t be what it is today. If anything this movie makes a great commercial for McDonalds, heck I crushed two McDoubles afterwards!
Check ya later,
Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews — The Founder = 72/100