It’s Throwback Thursday! And while I’ve got a few more recent film reviews in the pipeline that I’m working on at the moment, tonight I thought I’d share one from a fond film memory of mine. Whilst doing an internship last June I got the opportunity to attend my first media preview screening for the recent film The Founder. It was such a great experience, and even though my review of the film never got published, I can publish it here! So please enjoy my thoughts on The Founder:
A movie about McDonald’s might sound like one big ad for the company, trying to showcase their “humble beginnings” and showing them off as an “all-American brand”, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Whilst you might be craving a burger at the end of The Founder, you’ll probably feel even sicker every time you eat at McDonald’s from now on.
The Founder follows Ray Kroc, a Midwestern salesman who discovers two brothers with a restaurant that would revolutionise the food service industry: McDonald’s. And, as he claims their idea and turns it into the biggest franchise the world has ever seen, he alienates himself from his family and friends in pursuit of success.
Michael Keaton is wonderfully intense as Kroc, the ruthless businessman who will stop at nothing until McDonalds is all his and the biggest restaurant in America. As you watch him, Keaton gives Kroc a perfectly conflicting sense of both sharp and unstable at the same time, and he so uncannily portrays Kroc’s descent into greed and self-obsession as he screws over the McDonald brothers and estranges himself from his family.
For Keaton’s layered performance, however, other elements suffered. Laura Dern was wasted as Ethel Kroc, from both a blandly written character and an unenthusiastic performance, and hard as you try to feel sympathy for her, you just don’t know her well enough to care. Many other characters also felt underused and there only to serve the plot, such as BJ Novak as Harry Sonneborn, who was only introduced to give Kroc one idea, and even Dick and Mac McDonald (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch respectively) were underdeveloped. Though Offerman felt familiar as a symbol of small town America (he will always be Ron Swanson for many), his best scenes explored Dick’s brotherly relationship with Mac, and their joint ambitions and struggles. However, this wasn’t explored very well, so when the time came to root for them, there was less impact.
Despite all this, Kroc’s quick-talking salesman made for a dynamic, fast-paced script, which was also very critical of its own events. McDonald’s will never be toppled as a commercial giant, but this damning portrayal of its founder must be pretty hard to stomach. Sound familiar?
Here’s my list of my top five favourite films and TV showsstarring the cast of The Founder:
- Spotlight – Michael Keaton
- Parks and Recreation – Nick Offerman
- The Fault in our Stars – Laura Dern
- Avengers: Age of Ultron – Linda Cardellini
- Jackie – John Carroll Lynch
Photos taken from IMDb.com: