I am always a sucker for a good true story. And while there are tons of them out there, one that just came out recently really caught my attention because it was the story behind one of the most successful businesses and one of the most recognizable brands in history. McDonalds. Director John Lee Hancock, no stranger to true stories with films like The Blind Side, The Rookie and Saving Mr. Banks under his belt, took on this controversial tale with Michael Keaton as his leading man in The Founder.
Ray Kroc (Keaton) had worked as a salesman most of his life. But being more of a hustler than a salesman earned Ray a reputation as well as a comfortable life for himself and his wife. During his travels hawking milkshake machines, Ray stumbles upon a restaurant in San Bernardino, California run by brothers Richard McDonald and Maurice McDonald (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch) that has efficiency down to an art and is poised to redefine the drive-in experience. Ray inserts himself into the business with promises of building a franchise but the McDonald’s brothers soon learn the hard way that when you do business with Ray Kroc, it’s his way or the highway.
The Founder is fascinating in that not only did Kroc eventually swindle the McDonald brothers (the how-he-did-it must be seen to be believed) but he practically erased the brothers from the history of the franchise presenting himself as the sole founder. Which is just crazy. The whole story is captivating from start to finish, Hancock and writer Robert Siegel keep the story fast paced, funny, interesting and really make all the characters connect as authentic. And Michael Keaton proves once again why he is such a phenomenal actor, he infuses Kroc with his signature energy that perfectly melds with Kroc’s own superhuman drive for success. It really is one of Keaton’s best and most fascinating performances. The Founder is a crazy story behind the most popular fast food on the planet and no doubt will surprise viewers with how it came to be. Very highly recommended.