The Founder Parent Review
Based on the story of McDonald's Restaurants' rise from humble beginnings to global giant, this film will likely leave you feeling little sympathy for the big business.
What’s in a name? For Ray Kroc (played by Michael Keaton), the value of the right moniker might be worth selling your soul for! He knows for sure his surname isn’t suitable as a business title. Yet McDonald’s… now that one has potential.
As a longtime salesman, Ray has flogged almost everything you can think of, but without many results. His patient wife (Laura Dern) puts up with his mad schemes, although she is growing tired of his long absences from home. When he returns to Illinois all abuzz about a visit to California, she tries to be supportive of his latest get-rich-quick opportunity.
After meeting Dick and Mac McDonald (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch) in San Bernardino, Ray believes the brothers’ unique approach to making and selling hamburgers could revolutionize the industry. Of course, he wants to be part of their story. Finagling a deal to become the McDonald brothers’ first franchise manager, Ray takes their model to the other side of the country where he uses his sales experience to convince others to buy into the concept.
Although things get off to a slow start, they do eventually get cooking. And as his achievements grow, so does Ray’s ego. Soon he is taking credit for ideas that aren’t his own and overstepping the limits of his contract with Dick and Mac. As legal issues ensue, Ray’s appetite for success becomes so ravenous that he is willing to devour anyone or anything that stands in his way.
While the corrupting power of greed is not a new theme in Hollywood movies, this one has the virtue of being based on a true story. Where the script fails however is in presenting a gradual chain of events showing Ray’s evolving motives. Instead, his change-of-face feels abrupt, and in turn makes this account seem too contrived to be real. Numerous profanities, a sexual expletive and finger gesture, along with frequent drinking and marital unfaithfulness are other reasons why this film may be a disappointment for family viewers.
Today, the name McDonald’s is almost synonymous with the American Dream. This portrayal of the little men who conceived it, and the man who helped it grow into a global giant likely won’t encourage sympathy for either the fast food chain or free enterprise. Yet whether you love or hate the Golden Arches, or capitalism for that matter, the real guilty partner here is the human tendency to put fame and fortune above integrity and fairness. And that’s a reminder worth heeding regardless of what name we may want to give to selfish desires.Directed by John Lee Hancock. Starring Linda Cardellini, Michael Keaton, Patrick Wilson . Running time: 116 minutes. Theatrical release January 20, 2017. Updated April 18, 2017
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Founder here.
The Founder Parents Guide
Ray Kroc is depicted as ruthless in his business practices, but is he the only character that is greedy? In what way is Dick and Mac McDonald’s possessiveness also a form of greed? Why does Kroc profit more than the McDonalds? Is it possible to climb the ladder of success without stepping on toes?
Without the McDonald brothers, do you think Ray Kroc would have amounted to anything? Without Ray Kroc, do you think the McDonalds’ ideas would have grown into a national franchise? In the end, the money splitting was very unequal. What might these men have done differently to reach a more equitable relationship? Why were the brothers more successful at sharing profits with each other than they were with Kroc? What can you learn from the way they treated each other?
The American Dream refers to each man’s opportunity to find success and prosperity by his own hard work and determination. How might this ideal be compromised by the selfishness of others? Did Kroc ever do anything illegal? Did he do anything unethical? Does he face negative consequences for his rule bending? Why do nice guys like the McDonald brothers always seem to finish last? Even though they do receive some compensation for their innovative ideas, why are they dissatisfied?