Every Saturday morning I used to wake up at 8am sharp, make my way to McDonalds, and get myself a breakfast. I never rated the lunch time menu, but for some reason I found their McMuffin meals to be superior to their burgers. I do not eat at this restaurant anymore. I haven’t for over a year. My reason is irrelevant. The point I am trying to make is that many of us have a story to tell about how much we either love or hate McDonalds.
The Founder proves the point that no matter who you are, you cannot avoid seeing the glowing M sign. Of course, there was going to be a movie about McDonalds eventually. This is an American biographical drama film about Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), the salesman turned franchisee who managed to whisk away the company from the McDonald brothers (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch) and make it into a multi-billion dollar empire. The Founder provides much more than you bargained for.
I had no idea how the empire was built. The movie sells the story. Michael Keaton performs as a misguided, visionary salesman trying to find the one thing that can make him a success. In fact, a large segment of this movie is an advertisement into the history of McDonalds. It reeks of Ray’s salesmanship and biography. There is an entire 10 minutes where he is sat down with the brothers and they are explaining to him how they designed the fast burger service. The movie engrosses you into a man’s dream. From a poor salesman to taking over a burger operation, it portrays a man financially wounded with a risk to his reputation. Oh, and also his wife, a character that the film so seriously isolates that you cannot help but feel sorry for her. Despite knowing that McDonalds is at present a success, you almost feel sorry for Ray. Almost.
By the time you get to the midway point of the movie you wonder if this biography puts Ray in a good light. It is confusing because it is based on his biography, and then you come to realise the title The Founder is actually ironic. When I reached the third act I did not like Ray. It is intentional, of course. The fact I did not like him did not deter me from the fact that I enjoyed the movie. I do not like what he stands for. Once the story gets across the proud history of McDonalds you find it brings to the surface a character so desperate for success that he becomes impossible to reason with.
Like The Wolf of Wall Street, like Wardogs, you enjoy the story like some form of interesting education, but you do not necessarily like the character. The only difference is Ray is not corrupt, and like any good salesman, he shows you only two-thirds of his personality; the first is a nice guy and the second is ambition. His final third is a supercilious snide businessman ready to screw you over when he is ready. Michael Keaton fools you wonderfully.
McDonalds is really irrelevant in all this. It is a story about dreams, desperation and greed. If you love the burger giant then your opinion will not change. If you hate it then the same applies.
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