If ever there was a story we wanted to know, it’s that of how McDonald’s succeeded in dominating the world … right? Serving as more than just a commercial for a tasty cheeseburger, director John Lee Hancock delves into the true story of travelling salesman Ray Kroc. Let’s call him the original Cheese Burglar. In his fifties, bouncing around from job to job, we meet Kroc on the road as he clocks up miles travelling the country, visiting drive-through diners and trying to sell his multi-mixer milkshake maker.
Played by Michael Keaton, Kroc is determined to chase the ‘American Dream’. When two brothers from California, Dick and Mac McDonald order an unusually high number of milkshake mixers, Kroc drives across the country out of curiosity. What awaits him on the other side is a busy burger joint that has revolutionised the takeaway food industry, creating the notion of ‘fast food’ – delivered in only thirty seconds.
Hancock clearly likes to explore America’s greatest capitalists. His last film was the far gentler and much more magical Saving Mr Banks, the story about Walt Disney. Ironically, Disney and Kroc actually met during the war as they both lied about their age to serve their country.
That is not to say that The Founder is a bad film. Slow in parts, it does manage to keep you captivated throughout. Having Kroc as the protagonist is interesting, as he discards people much like the paper packaging the McDonald’s burgers are wrapped in, and as the film goes on he gets less and less pity as he is revealed to be a ruthless (and morally corrupt) businessman.
While Keaton is being touted as an Oscar favourite, I can’t help feeling like it would merely be a pity win for his deserving Birdman. It will be just like Leo all over again…