The Founder

John Lee Hancock’s biographical melodrama The Founder is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who built the McDonald’s empire with tenacity and grit and then strong-armed ownership of the company from the two brothers who began it in San Bernardino. When we meet Kroc (a never-better Michael Keaton), it’s the 1950s and he’s schlepping milkshake mixers from pillar-to-post trying to get fast food restaurants to take interest. No dice until his office receives an order for eight from a small burger joint in the middle of nowhere in California. The two brothers, Mac and Dick (John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman, respectively), have created a “speedy” system that can turn burger orders around in seconds and an iconic symbol of their enterprise – golden arches. Kroc, a silver-tongued devil, convinces the brothers he can take their model and reproduce it across the country. The three enter into a contract and almost immediately Kroc begins to chafe under the deal; he’s weary of the brother’s “take it slow” mentality and he finds effective ways to work around them, expanding the company in the Midwest. His myopia and egotism lead to trouble with his wife (the reliable Laura Dern) and with the brothers, who worry they’re losing control of their business. A showdown is inevitable. All of the performers and the period details are terrific. The take-away? Being a slimeball can indeed pay off. 


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