The Founder

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Breaking news: Ray Kroc was a visionary. Also a megalomaniac, a cheater (in both his business and his marriage), and a ruthless manipulator.

This movie tells his story, starting from when he was a failing milkshake-mixer salesman, traipsing over the countryside pushing his five-spindle mixers to mostly unreceptive drive-in restaurant owners. But one little outfit in San Bernardino buys a lot of 'em, so Ray drives out there to see what's going on. It's the McDonald brothers, Dick and Mac, who have ingeniously re-invented their restaurant with walk-up windows, disposable packaging, bare-bones menu, and an optimized production design. Ray sees the future, and the rest is history. Including a lot of rewritten history, as Ray eventually squeezes out the innovative brothers and presents himself as the McDonald's "founder".

The McDonald brothers were transplants from New Hampshire! I did not know that.

I like movies about business, and this one held my interest throughout. Michael Keaton is a force of nature as Ray, and the rest of the cast is first rate, especially Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch as the screwed-over McDonald brothers.

Bonus: when Ray meets wife-to-be Joan (played by Linda Cardellini), she's playing piano and singing in a prospective franchisee's swanky restaurant. At this point they're both married to other people, but that doesn't stop them from getting moony-eyed over each other. Pretty soon, they're duetting on Joan's piano, and that's actually Michael Keaton and Linda Cardellini performing. They're good!

If you watch The Founder, and you're interested, you can do a reality-check here, a page set up by Lisa Napoli, author of the biographical Ray & Joan. As might be expected, the movie did a lot of fact-manipulation in order to tell a good story.

Last Modified 2017-09-06 9:57 AM EST