THE FOUNDER

“I have no interest in crass commercialisation, it’s just not McDonald’s…”

Wayward Wolf Film Review.

 

“I have no interest in crass commercialisation, it’s just not McDonald’s…”

Yes, you may well need to blink and re-read that.

A quote from joint founder member, Dick McDonald, who, together with his brother, Mac, formulated a revolutionary way to prepare what we now refer to as ‘fast food’.

Their finely-tuned, almost choreographed approach to the preparation and service of good quality hamburgers, french fries and milkshakes was to ultimately become the benchmark for all fast food preparation from that moment forward.

What most people don’t realise about the McDonald brothers is that they were absolute sticklers for standards taking great pride in preserving the high quality of their product, content with the knowledge that the customer was indeed always king. This had resulted therefore in a general reluctance to franchise out their hugely successful concept owing to justifiable concerns that to maintain such high standards in locations outside of their immediate control, would be problematic.

But with a proven formula and a highly profitable business on the go, they were understandably struggling to keep up with demand.

Little did they realise then that an order placed for a significant number of ‘revolutionary’ milkshake mixers – designed to greatly reduce preparation time by making multiple shakes, simultaneously – would prove to be both the making and breaking of them.

Not only then does a significant amount of time-saving machinery come winging its way into the McDonald brothers’ lives, but with it, comes Ray Croc.

Croc, a journeyman career food and restaurant sales rep with big dollar signs in his eyes, is immediately enchanted by the MacDonald brothers’ enterprise and no matter the level of slightly apprehensive indifference that they show towards his initial advances, he is not a man that will be easily dissuaded.

Ray Croc is determined to have himself a slice of this sleeping potential giant of a success story and immediately proposes massive expansion plans to the brothers by means of franchising the concept nationwide across America.

Persuasive to the end, Croc finally wins the trust of the McDonald brothers and a three-way contract based upon strict adherence to procedures and stringent quality controls is drawn up.

With the brothers’ concept and Croc’s drive and market savvy, what could go wrong?

The world of super-successful business is a murky, cut-throat affair at the best of times, and the strained relationship that ensues between the trio was in many ways inevitable. Dick and Mack’s morally sound approach, content to remain local in order to preserve the standards that they aspire to, was always going to prove ultimately unworkable in the face of Croc’s far more ruthless business-growth ideology.

Ray Croc is a man who’s managed to make a living through hard graft and innumerable knock backs along the way. When the opportunity of a life time finally materialises, and with a big point to prove to both himself and those that have doubted him, this fifty-something dispirited travelling sales veteran, whose wife has almost forgotten what he looks like, was never going to turn his back on the chance to make it big.

No-one, not even he, could surely have envisaged just how big that would be, and the kinds of underhand low-ball tactics that he’d end up employing through clouded, corrupted judgement, in order to realise his dreams; very much at the expense of others.

Director John Lee Hancock’s The Founder is wonderfully entertaining, beautifully-paced  and in spite of the aggravating nature of the growing mischievousness of the film’s lead, Michael Keaton’s portrayal of Croc is absolutely superb, developing the character from his inspiring, motivational inception into the down-right conniving, hard-nosed crook that he became.

Nick Offerman is excellent as the sceptical, judicious, Dick McDonald, whereas John Carroll Lynch is great in his portrayal of Dick’s warm-hearted, but slightly gullible brother.

Last but not least, Laura Dern is splendid as Croc’s long-suffering wife, Ethel. She tries hard to present a stoic front in response to her rather lonely predicament, but her impuissant efforts are insufficient to truly bring about any sort of meaningful change in her married life; forever a slave to her husband’s rather selfish tunnel-visioned career motives.

No matter your thoughts on the ‘evil’ McDonald’s empire – and let’s not isolate them as sole protagonists in the ‘questionable ethics of fast-food corporations’ department… Hello Burger King, KFC et al – The Founder is great entertainment, and an eminently watchable, high-tempo piece of cinema that you’d be McMad to miss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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