The Founder

Directed by John Lee Hancock
Starring Michael Keaton, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, B.J. Novak and John Carroll Lynch
In US Cinemas December 7th, 2016 (Limited)
In US Cinemas January 20th, 2017
In UK Cinemas February 17th, 2017
Watch on iTunes

by Joanna Orland

The Founder has all of the right ingredients – an excellent ensemble cast, fantastic performances, a beloved American franchise – but somehow the film manages to be all garnish and no meat in this uneven McDrama.

The Founder tells the story of Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), the man who essentially stole McDonald’s from its founders and transformed it into what it is today. Both the film’s protagonist and villain, Kroc comes across as a suitable character for today’s Trumpian era where facts don’t matter and you can just bully people into submission. Watching this film post-election leaves a nasty taste in your mouth (worse than a Big Mac) as the parallels are painful and no empathy can be had for Kroc as he does deplorable things to the McDonald brothers in railroading them into giving up the business that the brothers started themselves.

Brothers Mac and Dick McDonald (John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman) are the moral centre of the film, wholesome and well intentioned as Kroc bullies and manipulates his way into their business. Taking over the franchise aspect of the business, Kroc ignores signed legal contracts and the brothers’ wishes, eventually buying them out of the business for nothing as they no longer have any choice. He’s become so wealthy from using them that they can’t afford to fight for what is rightfully theirs against such a powerhouse.

With such a landmark true story and an excellent cast, it’s remarkable how this film gets it wrong. It is tonally uneven and dull throughout, its only saving grace being the actors. Michael Keaton gives another stellar performance as Kroc, solidifying his comeback as a great one. Sadly, this film isn’t worthy of his talents, nor the talents of Lynch and Offerman who do a great job as the McDonald brothers.

The cast is rounded out nicely with Patrick Wilson, Linda Cardellini, B.J. Novak and Laura Dern, all wasted in their underdeveloped roles. There doesn’t seem to be much for anyone else but Keaton and the brothers to do in this film, making it drag and hollowing out any substance it could have potentially had.

A terrible film with an excellent lead performance, The Founder misses a great opportunity in telling the fascinating true story of America’s biggest franchise.



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