‘The Founder’ Blu-ray Review: Intelligent Biopic About McDonald’s Founder Ray Kroc
The Founder, directed by John Lee Hancock, is a biopic about Ray Kroc the businessman behind the creation of the American cultural icon and cooperation McDonald’s.
The film opens up by portraying two very opposing parties. The first is Ray Kroc. The audience first impression of Kroc is of a tired, aging and unsuccessful salesman. In the first opening minutes we see Kroc’s successive string of failures as he’s unable to sell his milkshake makers to any of the diners on his cross-country trip. He is quite the opposite of the McDonald’s brothers. While most diners won’t give his sale pitches the time of day, the McDonald brothers place an over-the-phone order for eight milkshake makers, which piques the well-weathered salesman’s interest. He makes the decision to hand deliver the order to San Bernardino and see the restaurant for himself. What he finds is a booming fast-food business headed by the young MacDonald’s brothers.
The story of the McDonald’s franchise is that of a classic American Dream, only for Ray Kroc, it is one he will initially need to steal. Kroc is able to convince the brothers to allow him to franchise the restaurant. What seems like a lucrative offer turns into a nightmare for the brothers who have the business slowly stolen from under them.
Yet the story that is presented isn’t one of an entirely conniving man. We see Kroc as he first tries to implement change through the authority of the brothers but has his ideas continuously denied. Franchising McDonald’s has put Kroc at a significant financial risk. Not only has he taken personal loans to jump-start the project, but he has personally put in the brunt of the work to recruit franchise owners and investors. Yet due to his initial contract, his debts are unable to be paid with his small portion of the profit. The financially sticky place he finds himself in, along with his frustrating interactions with the brothers, who refuse to lower costs, push him to take morally questionable business decisions.
One of the greatest moments of irony in the film is in the closing scene where he delivers a speech at a gathering in his new mansion in which he praises his own persistence, the scene occasionally shifting over to the McDonald brothers who stare at their original restaurant as a new McDonald’s franchise is put up across the street to put what remains of their business into ruin. Kroc has now taken the the title as McDonald’s founder, in a final moment of erasing the brother’s legacy from the franchise.
The Blu-ray/DVD also includes interviews with the cast and director of The Founder. Audiences can also get glimpses of the more technical aspects of movie creation such as how costume and set design, including a time-lapse of recreating the original McDonald’s restaurant.
The film is worth the purchase, headed by Michael Keaton who performs the moral regression of Ray Kroc’s character as his genuine work-ethic is corrupted by his ambition.