Movie Review: The Founder (2016)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2016 biopic starring Michael Keaton and Linda Cardellini.

Synopsis: In 1954, an unsuccessful traveling salesperson, Ray Kroc, stumbles upon a successful restaurant owned by two brothers. Impressed with their business model, he convinces them to let him franchise their restaurant, McDonald's. However, his dreams of creating a restaurant empire are hindered by the brothers' conservative approach to business.


This movie has been out for some time now and I've had opportunities to watch it in the past. But, I've been a bit reluctant to do so because, truthfully, I thought it sounded a little bit boring. 

However, as luck would have it, two things happened to me this week. The first was our Direct TV was knocked out by a storm (two days later, I'm writing this while still waiting for the repair tech to come and fix it). The second was I discovered the Vudu app on my smart TV and realized I could be watching a bunch of movies for free, at least as long as I am willing to watch some commercials as part of the deal.

As a result of these two things, I decided to put on this movie early this morning, while everyone else was still in bed, mostly because I couldn't watch my normal early-morning shows and I wanted to save my first choices in movies for when my wife was watching with me. As it turns out, this film actually was surprisingly good.

I think the thing that really stood out for me when it came to this film was the way Kroc (Keaton) was portrayed. I usually shy away from biopics because they tend to be a bit one-sided. They usually either make the main character a saintly hero or a devil-worshipping bad guy. This film, however, seemed to strike a perfect balance. I can't say Kroc was particularly likable, especially toward the end of the film (and especially with the way he treats his wife). But, there were times when I could respect him and the obstacles he had to overcome as well.

I also found liked how the movie gave a play-by-play introduction to the McDonald's brothers, Dick (Offerman) and Mac (Lynch), taking the time to explain their own hardships leading up to their founding of a successful business. I think this gave them a lot more depth than I would normally expect in a film like this and, at minimum, it did make me understand why they were so reluctant to let Kroc make even a minor change (like building a restaurant with a basement and furnace). Plus, I have to admit, them mapping out their new restaurant using a tennis court was actually a pretty neat visual.

Final Opinion

I wasn't expecting this, but I have to admit, I liked the movie. It's probably not going to convince me to watch more biopics. But, I would recommend taking the time to watch it if you get a chance.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 10/05/2019, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 02/22/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for practical information, pretty pictures and product lines.
I already have seen this film! It's an interesting biopic about which I agree with what you perceive as shortcomings in Kroc.

It's one of my favorite roles by Michael Keaton. I also respect his bumbling, comedic character in Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing. Would you all happen to have seen it?

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