Founding McDonald’s

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Do you ever ponder the history behind the “golden arches” as you eat your burger and fries at McDonald’s? If so, “The Founder” is the perfect choice for the barren month of January movies.

“The Founder” stars Michael Keaton as real-life businessman Ray Kroc, with a great supporting cast including Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch and Laura Dern. The story picks up from the beginning in the 1950s, following Kroc’s frequent road trips in order to make a living selling milkshake machines, getting rejected most of the time by restaurant owners.

However, he receives a phone call request for six machines from a McDonald’s restaurant in San Bernadino, California and is so shocked at the quantity that he calls up the owner to verify the order. After confirming the order, Kroc, bewildered at the sale, decides to drive across the country to check out McDonald’s for himself, and thus the true story begins.

The first half of the movie was captivating. Watching Keaton traverse the country in search of work (several times even passing through the greater St. Louis region) and as a businessman for McDonald’s was very interesting. Michael Keaton brought the perfect charisma and mindset to personify the entrepreneurial spirit of Ray Kroc, giving him some humanity and desperation throughout his many ups and downs in business.

The supporting cast was great, and some standouts for me were the McDonald’s brothers, Dick and Mac (Offerman and  Lynch), whose good-hearted intentions shone through the potentially greedy nature of Kroc’s overtaking of McDonald’s. Watching the rise of the modern fast-food empire that is McDonald’s was very fun and informative to the average moviegoer.

Clocking in at just under two hours, “The Founder” can feel like a long film at times, especially during drawn-out scenes between the Krocs, which really took me out of the movie. The pacing and tone were muddled through the plot on several occasions, which along with the predictability this movie lends itself to, were a real detraction from the story.

Furthermore, I found the ending to be abrupt and wanted more closure as a viewer, which disappointed me. The worst part of this movie collectively for me is the director’s unclear view of Kroc—as a viewer, I could not tell whether we should respect Kroc’s persistent mindset, or despise his sly deal-making and greed.