"The Founder" tells the true story of how McDonald’s grew from a local restaurant known for its quick service and (ironically) quality control into the unmatched and unrivaled largest restaurant chain, which currently serves one percent of the world’s population every day.
It all starts with a man named Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) an ice cream mixer salesman who is having a particularly slow sales day. After another sale goes awry and Kroc comes up with nothing to show for his persistence, an order comes in for eight mixers at a local restaurant in San Bernardino, Calif., called McDonald’s.
With nothing to lose, Kroc makes the long drive to the restaurant and finds himself overwhelmed and impressed. Everything from the speed of service to the quality of the food mesmerizes the struggling salesman so much that he decides must learn more.
His good first impression is further bolstered by a tour of the restaurant, during which Kroc sees the inner workings of the operation. His thoughts go from being a speculative onlooker, to a very hopeful supporter as he tries to convince the two owners, brothers Dick and Mac McDonald, to turn the restaurant into a successful franchise. They reluctantly agree, and the rest is history.
From then, on Kroc begins to abandon his concerns for the quality of food and ingredients, most notably when he forgoes the use of ice cream in the milkshakes at most McDonald’s locations.
Kroc gradually shuts the brothers out of their own company, leaving them with practically nothing, as more and more McDonald’s restaurants dot the country.
Michael Keaton’s portrayal of Kroc is not out of the ordinary for him; he does an exceptional job playing him in terms of a character study.
This movie captures perfectly the shift in Kroc’s attitude toward the company as it grows, but does so in a way that is respectful, leaving it up to the audience to determine the morality of his decisions.
Nick Offerman portrays Dick McDonald’s stubborn, reluctant attitude toward Kroc proficiently, as well, and both characters work very well off of each other throughout the film.
In addition to those convincing performances, "The Founder" tries to show the contrast between the starry eyed, bright and hopeful days of the restaurant’s past with the colder, more self-entered corporate entity of a future; it does so respectfully, however, as Kroc is not portrayed too heavily as an "antagonist." But, the movie definitely isn’t endorsed by the company, either.
"The Founder" is a fascinating, informative, and insightful look into the humble, well-intentioned beginnings of a small business that, for better or for worse, became a large corporate entity.
Quinn Zack is a sophomore at Hamburg High School.