The Founder, directed by John Lee Hancock, is a film that by the end of it, I felt defeated and completely detached from all that happened. The film’s main focus is a person who is utterly reprehensible. I had no want to see him succeed and as his success grew, I only became more and more disconnected from the film – soon wishing it to just end, so that I could go on with my day. My review will be unkind but fair, so let’s get to it.
The film tells the true story of, Ray Kroc – portrayed by Michael Keaton – who was the man who took the initial workings of a sole McDonald’s restaurant and set it on the path to what we know it to be today. Unfortunately, the way in which he went about doing that, was by screwing over and mistreating every person around him. Leaving you with a story and a character about someone who you wished failure upon, but knew it would never happen.
I really tried to get on board with this film and settle in to its story… but I just couldn’t. Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is an awful human being and that he is the main focus of a film is a misstep by the filmmaker for sure. As the film progressed, I hated the character more and more, I hated to see his success continue to grow, I was saddened to see other people continually be lured in and subsequently crushed by him. Things get so bad, that I soon just disconnected fully from the film; no longer making the effort to invest myself in the story, or care about what would happen next – that was probably around the half way mark in the film, so I had to sit through a lot of things that I no longer cared about.
What I think makes it so dis-heartening, is that the brothers, Dick and Mac McDonald – portrayed by Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch – are some genuinely nice people. I wanted more of their story; I wanted to see more of what it was like on their end, while Ray was off dominating the country. Unfortunately, the film relegates them to scenes that play out very similar, any time they are on-screen – that being the two of them sitting in the back office, speaking to Ray over the phone. It is in them that some humanity could have been extracted from the film, instead of just continuous misery.
The only positive that I can glean from the characters is that the performances by all the primary actors are really good. Michael Keaton in particular is brilliant at portraying the unpleasant, Ray Kroc. As I’ve already stated, I genuinely didn’t like him, and a lot of that is through just how convincing of a job, Keaton does. It’s just a shame that his brilliant acting abilities, resulted in me being a part of a man’s story who deserves no praise or attention, what so ever.
Beyond the characters and the actors, you have the story of how Ray Kroc took over and then turned, McDonald’s into the powerhouse it is today, and if I’m being honest, it doesn’t warrant a lot of interest. It turns out that the day-to-day operations of McDonald’s, even in its infancy, is not that stimulating to watch. Oh no, they’re switching from milkshakes that utilise milk, to ones that now use a powder, however will I keep my interest contained? Quite easily it turns out.
It all made for something that I completely switched off from caring about. But I suppose I should have seen the warning signs early on when I noticed that the first act of the film was an overbearing mess. The first act consists of some wonky editing and a continuous dump of expository information. It never lets up, and it doesn’t make for a very engaging watch. I felt less like a participant in a hopefully interesting story, and more like a student sitting down in class to just learn all the necessary information – thankfully there wasn’t a quiz at the end of it. It’s the sort of start to a film that’s just unwelcoming, and was the beginning to the inevitable path towards total disconnect.
There isn’t really much else to say. The Founder just isn’t an enjoyable or interesting film to watch. Any of the elements that could have pulled me in, are overlooked and mainly forgotten about, and what it does make its primary focus, is something I couldn’t muster any care for.
And so I will not be recommending, The Founder; a film you can definitely pass on by. Trust me, you’re not missing anything.
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