The story mainly focuses on Raymond Kroc (Michael Keaton), a salesman in the mid-1950s trying to sell his inventions that no one wants. He is convinced that with enough determination he can rise to the top and be rich, and he finally finds his path to fame when he stumbles across a small restaurant called McDonalds. He introduces himself to Dick and Mac McDonald (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch), the owners of the place who pride themselves on their speed and efficiency. Convinced that this is where he will make his millions, Kroc convinces the brothers that he can turn their restaurant into a huge franchise. They agree, under the condition that they have complete creative control over everything he does. At first, things look like they are going well, until Kroc’s ambition overtakes his morals and goes behind the McDonalds’ backs.
Though the movie has what I would consider to be a fairly standard and generic story, the situation that it presents is interesting enough to hold its own among other ‘based on a true story’ dramas. Hearing the story of how such a major company like McDonalds was created is interesting in its own right, especially when you consider the circumstances that its popularization was created under. Everybody knows McDonalds, but many (myself included) might not know the shady methods that Kroc used to become a billionaire. This makes the movie interesting enough to break through the monotony of the story’s plot, especially considering its great performances.
Keaton does an excellent job at playing the conniving and over-confident Kroc, reminding me that it is characters like this that he really shines at playing. He has an opening monologue that I found myself critiquing for its clichés yet still captivated by because Keaton’s performance. Kroc’s combined awkwardness and persistence makes him an interesting character and Keaton nails it. The rest of the cast, including Laura Dern, B.J. Novak, Patrick Wilson and Linda Cardellini, do a great job as well, weaving the story of McDonald’s creation effortlessly.
The only real problem I have with the film is that its formulaic nature has a tendency to bleed into the movie’s dialogue, especially Keaton’s. The scene where Keaton looks at the plot of land he wants to turn into a McDonalds and repeats “Let me be right, just the once” three times seems incredibly forced. There are many lines of dialogue just as cliché as that, and without the movie’s excellent performances, this would have made the film a slog to sit through. Luckily, Keaton, Offerman, Lynch and the supporting cast are so charismatic and flow so well off each other that it became a non-issue. In total, The Founder is a good telling of an extremely interesting story. It won’t win any awards, but it’s definitely worth checking out.