Changing the way you feel about the golden arches. Based on true events, this is the story of a salesman named Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton). He’s good enough making a pitch, but nobody’s buying. One fateful order changes everything, and when he meets two brothers and their revolutionary speedy system of food production in San Bernardino, he sees the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and convinces them to franchise their restaurant. Now I was interested in this from the trailers, but I didn’t really have anything as far as expectations; in fact, I was actually going to the AMC to check out another film entirely, but I got the show time wrong, so I watched this as a backup option. I eat at McDonalds probably as much as the average American, and speaking candidly, the documentary Super Size Me strangely made me hungry for those cheap burger patties. This is different. This is telling you a story that you wouldn’t know is noteworthy unless you had done research, and it quite frankly blew me away.
I still like their food as much as the next guy, but I might take a bit of a break here.
Now the one thing that I really wasn’t expecting out of this was what an emotional rollercoaster I went through while watching this. Keaton’s resurgence is in full effect after Birdman and Spotlight, and once again, he has made one of my favorite movies of the year. The character of Ray Kroc that he is portraying is very well fleshed out, and you experience the full spectrum of emotions, from rooting for him to hating the very ground he walks on. When you first see him, he’s kind of a loser on his last leg. He’s charismatic enough where you want to see him succeed, so when this opportunity presents itself, you want to see him jump on it and capitalize by getting in on the ground floor, because it might just very well be his last chance to make it. That’s when this film flips the script on you and shows what a true snake in the grass he is. There are small moments in this, and it is nothing flashy or even out of the ordinary, but they are such a backstab that you have a palpable involuntary reaction in the pit of your stomach, which lead me to the next thing: the unsung performances of John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman who play the brothers behind the restaurant. Nick Offerman especially is incredible in this; I know he has made so much of his career on playing Ron Swanson and/or characters like Ron Swanson from the television series Parks and Recreation. While it is hard to 100% get rid of entirely because of his voice, I completely bought into his character and always understood where he was coming from.
Maybe it was just because he shaved his moustache.
This is my sleeper movie of the year. It’s really funny it parts, but the journey that it takes you on stays with you well after the fact. Two things that are worthy of mentioning are that 1. I didn’t check what time it was until it was about ten minutes from being over, and 2. I thought about this story for the entirety of my drive back home. I don’t know if it is just that as I am growing older I am connecting more with biographical stories like this and Florence Foster Jenkins, but I can’t hide how I feel. The Founder is wholly engaging, and every time he steals credit for something that isn’t his, it is sure to make you squirm in all of its slimy glory. I love this movie wholeheartedly, please check it out.
The Founder (2016) *****
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2016? See for yourself here.