Art can make us judge our everyday decision making, and this telling of Ray Kroc is one that will make you question whether or not McDonald’s is as family friendly as you once thought and if it’s a business you want to support in the future. At the same time, The Founder is able to captivate with its snappy writing, magnificent cinematography, and spot on acting across the board.
Michael Keaton depicts cocky businessman Ray Kroc who is set on making McDonald’s a worldwide name despite the business not actually being his own company. Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch are the McDonald brothers who hire him on a limb and soon regret their decision.
The Founder portrays a plot that is contesting two ideas: rapid progress with processed foods vs. slow community-driven progress with traditional ingredients. The film shows both points of view rather than completely being biased towards one side. Whenever they conflict, the McDonald brothers and Ray Kroc, there is high tension and these scenes successfully drive the film forward as it reaches the climax. The writing is punchy, and there are lines that truly deliver and feel natural to each character of The Founder. However, at points, the movie with its fast pace feels too convenient. For example, he finds a business partner all of a sudden (B.J Novak) who is at the bank exactly the same time as Kroc is suffering financially due to the constrictive contract he has with the McDonald brothers. It’s a miracle!
Despite the convenient plot points, the actors perform phenomenally. Keaton shows the aggressive and impatient side of Kroc’s character in the film, especially while he is calling Dick and Mac MacDonald about contract issues. While watching the movie, Offerman and Carroll Lynch, without crying or yelling, quietly show their frustration and anger at Kroc as he is step by step taking over their business’ core beliefs and ownership. In one scene, the brothers simply stand in front of their restaurant as their sign is taken down, expressionless. This is far more effective than seeing their faces welling up in tears.
The film is also powerful in terms of Ray and his wife’s relationship or lack thereof. The Founder could have been a showing of over-acting within the impacting scenes, but the film takes a more somber route, and it works very well.
This biopic is wonderfully shot by the cinematographer John Schwartzman and director John Le Hancock. From the elegant use of lighting of the darker scenes within the flick to the overall theme of red and yellow (McDonald’s colors) set within key scenes, The Founder is a beauty to watch. Scenes with his wife by herself are especially haunting as the lighting is dim when she finds out Kroc mortgaged their home.
The Founder is one film that audiences will be ‘lovin’’ more than the brand it is based on, thanks to its writing, cinematography, and acting.