Everyone knows what McDonalds is. Whether you have bad connotations towards the fast food business or good ones, everyone knows the Golden Arches and the delicious heart disease food it provides. Between Morgan Spurlock munching down on the Big Mac to photos of pink chicken nugget meat, McDonalds has had a fair amount of criticism and today, we most likely munch into the food when we’re horrendously hungover or we cannot be arsed too cook.
Anyway, with McDonalds as one of the largest real estate owners in the globe, and nearly every single country having their own version of the fast food joint (in Spain, you can by beer with your food, making it glorious,) there’s still a lot of mystery surrounding how it sprung up. Enter The Founder which is a maddening and dull biopic about the man who turned arches into gold…
Ray Kroc is your typical business man. He coasts from Drive Thru to Drive Thru and business to business trying to sell his latest product in the hopes it will make him rich and successful. Sadly, he is turned down by nearly everyone. When he comes across a Drive Thru that has you walk up to the window and makes your food in 30 seconds, he decides to capitalise on the idea and spread it across the country. Only the founders, brothers Dick and Mac, are staunch in their principles. Who will succeed in the race to spread McDonalds?
The Founder has an interesting true life story behind it and, luckily, some great actors who can flesh it out to an extent. Michael Keaton is reborn again following his Academy Award nominated performance in Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance,) and his flair for playing characters who are morally ambiguous, twisted by ambition and their goals. Here is no different, his desperation and manipulation combine to make Ray a truly angering character. Opposite the good and honest characters played by John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman, Ray is a coporation villain driven by his desperation for success.
It’s just a shame that it turns out to be so dull. Much like 2015’s The Big Short, The Founder starts off intriguing then undoes itself by failing to keep you invested. What doesn’t help is how unlikable Kroc is as a character. Look, I’m all for anti-heroes because they make our films more interesting. I’m not saying that Ray has to be a likeable character but The Founder refuses to give him much more than ambition and persistence. Which means you have to suffer through nearly two hours of a dickhead getting everything he ever wanted by worming his way around good folk. The film can’t decide whether to applaud him for it or to condemn him. The story of how shafted Dick and Mac were is put to the sideline by nearly always following Ray and this becomes problematic, uninteresting, and you find yourself void of caring. Director John Lee Hancock simply cannot imbue this narrative of neediness and greed with anything to keep you invested, making it an exhausted and restless tale.
The Founder is exactly like a McDonald’s meal where it looks good but essentially doesn’t fill you up with the nourishment you need.
The Founder is out 17th February