Director: John Lee Hancock
Starring: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, and John Carroll Lynch.
Review Author: Shaun
Rating: 3.9/5 cans of McGuinness
The past few years have been outstanding for Michael Keaton. It’s almost been like a resurrection of some sorts. His last two films that he’s starred in, “Birdman” (2014) and “Spotlight” (2015), have both won the Best Picture award at the Oscars. For me, in both of those movies, Keaton was the highlight bringing out his usual charm and likability. We see that same personality in a much different way during “The Founder.”
The drama follows the true story of Ray Kroc (Keaton), a salesman, down on his luck who meets Dick and Ray McDonald. The McDonald brothers were known for running a pretty successful burger joint in 1950s Southern California. Kroc, being impressed by the speed of getting the food out to customers, wants to make the joint into a billion-dollar franchise.
Director John Lee Hancock has made a living out of creating effective biopic films. Two of his most recent projects, “The Blind Side” and “Saving Mr. Banks,” received some Oscar attention and showed a different perspective on the genre. For “The Founder,” he does an even better job of staying true to the facts while also creating an effective tone change that shies away from the typical biopic.
The first 20 or 30 minutes makes you believe that Hancock is going down the same route as other films in this genre, but then you start to realise who Ray Kroc really was. He eventually becomes unlikeable which is rare for the main character of a biopic. With Keaton performing as Kroc, the audience will continue to be interested in what he is going to do next. Keaton just brings so much charisma to the screen that if anyone else played this guy, the story wouldn’t be as effective.
Not only were we able to see who the “founder” of McDonald’s really was, we were also able to see the corrupting effects of capitalism in the sense that some people can cheat their way to success. Not only was Kroc unlikable for the way he made McDonald’s famous, but his annoying personality will leave a sour taste in the mouths of audiences. That aspect was entertaining though, and quite interesting.
Although Keaton was the standout, his supporting cast was just as intriguing. Hancock nicely develops every person of importance with regards to the plot. Nick Offerman and John Carol Lynch who played the brother entrepreneurs, actually had a well-developed background that gave audiences a sense of why they are doing what they are doing. B.J. Novak was a nice addition as well-being a catalyst for some of Kroc’s decision making.
Robert Siegel knows his way around a good script. A lot of the dialogue in the film is actually quite memorable. Many of the best scenes in the movie were because of how well written it really was. Hancock knows how to create a genuine setting for biopics, which you don’t see very often in other movies of this stature.
One of my only problems with the film was the relationship between Kroc and his two wives. Out of all the great development, the dynamics between him and his lovers were not important with regards to the main story. It wasn’t a great sub-plot. Stylistically, this did feel like a typical biopic at points which is a shame considering how different Keaton’s character was compared to others – This was a small issue though.
All in all, with a perfect formula of a great script, a fantastic cast, and an exceptional director, we get a well put together film. The tone change was great and I was intrigued throughout. Very satisfying.
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