The Founder

The Founder
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Risk taker. Rule breaker. Game changer.
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The true story of how Ray Kroc, a salesman from Illinois, met Mac and Dick McDonald, who were running a burger operation in 1950s Southern California. Kroc was impressed by the brothers’ speedy system of making the food and saw franchise potential. He maneuvered himself into a position to be able to pull the company from the brothers and create a billion-dollar empire.

Title:The Founder
Release Date:November 24, 2016
Genres:Drama, History
Production Co.:Weinstein Company, The, FilmNation Entertainment, Faliro House Productions, The Combine, Speedie Distribution
Production Countries:United States of America
Director:John Lee Hancock, Katherine Steets
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:ambition, biography, salesman, singing, fast food, 1950s, america
Alternative Titles:
  • Fome de Poder - [BR]

The Founder Reviews

  • A tale of treachery, greed and a code of ethics toxic enough to spoil a Big Mac.
    by CineMuseFilms on 26 November 2016

    109 out of 122 people found the following review useful:

    Biographical dramas tell stories about significant people in history but they are always much more than that. The person chosen for the bio-pic reflects something about the values of the era and the society from which they came. In this sense, The Founder (2016) goes well beyond the story of a global hamburger empire to the values that made McDonald's possible and it does not paint a pretty picture. The mantra "persistence is everything" is heard at the beginning and the end of this film but when decoded it means persistent treachery, greed, and a code of ethics toxic enough to remove some gloss from the world's most recognised golden arches.

    The real founders are brothers Maurice (John Lynch) and Richard McDonald (Nick Offerman) who pioneered the idea of standardised burgers made quickly that led to the modern fast-food industry. Into their lives came Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), a struggling milkshake-mixer salesman who is amazed at the queues of people lined up for burgers and fries. The brothers trust Ray, tell him their secrets, and in 1954 Ray becomes the franchise manager responsible for setting up new stores. Driven by insatiable greed, Ray wants to go national but the brothers fear loss of quality control. When Ray realises that owning the property on which stores operate gives him complete control of the business, his takeover plans are rolled into place.

    The storyline follows the facts of history but it is the film's characterisations that are its real achievement. Perhaps best known for his extraordinary performance in Birdman (2014) Michael Keaton is in a class of his own when it comes to portraying deeply flawed people living on the edge of sanity or evil. From the opening scenes his eyes express callous disregard for others, and at one point he boasts that if a competitor was drowning he would not hesitate to put a running hose deep down the victim's throat. His flawed humanity is contrasted by the authenticity and honesty represented by the brothers. Excellent casting, directing and period sets make this a thoroughly engaging story.

    This film also arrives with remarkable timing given the current global spotlight on the home of capitalism. Millions of McDonald's fans are regularly processed by one of the most sophisticated marketing machines on the planet. Seeing The Founder is a bit like finding out that Santa Claus is Satan in disguise. Good cinema not only entertains: it shows the world as it is, not as we believe it should be. The Founder tells a story that should be told, and it does it brilliantly.

  • An interesting look into the way one man helped turn a small hamburger restaurant into a global fast food empire
    by MrDHWong ( on 24 November 2016

    47 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

    The Founder is a biographical drama film starring Michael Keaton based on the life of American businessman and founder of the McDonald's Corporation Ray Kroc. Whether you love the McDonald's brand or hate it, this film offers a compelling view into the way it has captivated us all with its worldwide presence.

    In 1954, salesman Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) meets with brothers Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch) McDonald, the owners of the hamburger restaurant known as "McDonald's". Fascinated by the brothers' ability to have burgers and fries cooked in a matter of seconds, Kroc suggests the idea of franchising the restaurant nationwide, hoping to use this as a way to take control of the company and earn money for himself.

    Featuring yet another terrific performance from the ever-versatile Michael Keaton, his second best behind Birdman, The Founder is an interesting look into the way one man helped turn a small hamburger restaurant into a global fast food empire. It is fascinating seeing how one simple idea - fast food - has changed the culinary world forever. However, one cannot help but feel sorry for the misfortune the McDonald brothers went through as a result of franchising their name and the exploitation they received. I should also mention that the film reminded me of the 2010 film The Social Network, with its similar plot about one man exploiting a clever idea from two brothers for his own financial gain.

    I rate it 8/10.

  • A solid biopic made worth seeing for Keaton
    by sossevarvo on 26 November 2016

    55 out of 70 people found the following review useful:

    The Founder is another tale of the American Dream. It's the kind of tale we've seen a million times before. American man wants to become successful, sacrifices morality for moolah, etc. It's The Godfather, it's The Social Network, it's The Wolf of Wall Street. And The Founder, while entertaining, offers pretty much nothing new, or distinctive, to contribute. It is directed fairly conventionally, the story hits all the beats you'd expect, and it's not going to stick to your memory for too long.

    But that discounts the fact that the film is rather well made. Performances are uniformly solid, and the film is undeniably compelling for much of its run time. But the real reason to see the film is the powerhouse performance of Michael Keaton, a neglected actor throughout the 2000s who seems to be finally getting roles that he deserves with this, Spotlight and Birdman to consider. He is slimy, charismatic, and curiously sympathetic in all the right ways.

    In all The Founder may not light your world on fire, but it's a rock solid tale of greed and the American Dream that ought to entertain most that it meets.

    Side Note -I have no idea why this is playing in Australia over a month before it comes out across the rest of the world, but hey I'm not complaining.

  • The Founder!
    by Sameir Ali on 13 January 2017

    33 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

    The story of the "founder" of Mc Donald's and how he made it from a single shop to the largest leading firm in food industry.

    Ray Kroc is a desperate salesman trying to sell his product, a milkshake maker that no one needs. To his surprise, he gets an order for 6 machines. He cannot believe it and calls them back if it was true and to add to his surprise, the quantity was raised to 8. He himself goes to the restaurant to see the elegant and professionalism maintained by the brothers called Mac & Dick. Their restaurant is called Mc Donald's. Ray was eager to know their story and the brothers explains all their trade secrets. Ray couldn't sleep that night and goes back to the brothers with a new proposal. Here begins the story of the business tycoon Mc Donald's.

    The movie is amazing in all the ways. The director was successful in making the movie very involving and entertaining. Beautiful camera visuals, color tone and production design add to this retro tone of the movie. Performance of the actors are highlight of the movie. Rapid editing makes it a very fast movie with very less or no lagging. This movie is going to shine at the Oscars for sure.

    After watching the movie, at-least half of the audience will quit McD for a few days. The market value of McD will be interesting after the world wide release of the film.

    A must watch and highly recommended.


  • Keaton shines in this fascinating biopic
    by eddie_baggins on 24 November 2016

    24 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

    For many the thought nowadays of takeaway food is but a convenience we all enjoy (some more than others) but at one stage during human history the very idea of having your burger, fries and ice-cold Coke ready in mere seconds was a novelty that began sweeping the nation of America before taking over the world as we now know it today.

    A staple for over 60 years, McDonalds restaurants are a mainstay of everyday life, a reliable source of cheeseburger delicacies, crispy French fries and refreshing beverages that continue to supply the goods to those both young and those young at heart. When consuming McDonalds however, its unlikely many of us have ever truly considered where this establishment was born from and thankfully for all us, the story is a real doozy.

    It's often the case these days that high profile, well-marketed biopics are reliable as a Big Mac (you always know what you're going to get) but John Lee Hancock's film is imbedded with both an energy and pace that elevates it above the usual bio-fair and with another awards worthy turn from Michael Keaton as its centrepiece, this enthralling slice of history is a fabulously entertaining ride tinged in nostalgic 1950's vibes and garnished with a quick- smart script from The Wrestler screenwriter Robert D. Siegel.

    Capturing the time, place and allurement of this mankind changing business model, The Founder does a great job of transporting us back in time as we ride alongside struggling salesman Ray Kroc, whose eyes are opened when he comes across the McDonald brothers, whose business model of "fast food" finally gives Ray the chance his so longed for all his life, to make a buck and then some.

    Keaton's performance as Kroc is quite the feat. His a genuinely cold and calculated character but as the film begins we are happy to see him put in the hard yards as his franchise model of stores takes off but as the brand grows so does Kroc's ego and Keaton's performance morphs naturally as it does in fascinating and unexpected ways.

    Come the films later stages, the real feat of Keaton's turn comes into the spotlight and what we're left with is a layered character brought to life by the performer, whether it's in comical situations or brutally raw moments shared with lawyers, Keaton is on fire here and while his ably supported by the likes of Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch as the unfortunate McDonald brothers Dick and Mac, The Founder is founded off the back of Keaton's turn and whilst unlikely that this film will find itself in to many awards categories, Keaton is looming as a key player in the upcoming awards season.

    The Founder is one of those rare biopics that grabs you from the get-go and doesn't let up.

    A well shot, scored and acted studio film that tells a story worth telling (plus one of the best advertisements McDonald's has never paid for), The Founder offers a fascinating insight into the beginnings of the McDonald's brand that also gives us an equally fascinating real life figure and another chance for the career revival of Michael Keaton to continue on its merry way.

    4 milkshake sachets out of 5

  • The Founder Provides a Nourishing and Well Balanced Movie Going Experience
    by CANpatbuck3664 on 25 January 2017

    14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

    Sometimes it kind of sucks loving movies and living in a small town. I wanted to see this as soon as I saw the trailer but it was only available in a limited release. So I had to wait for the expansion in the release after the new year came around. So I made the trip up to a larger city with a couple of good friends to get the chance to go see it. I walked away from the theatre impressed with the movie and glad I made the trip. The Founder could have taken the easy route, painting Ray Kroc as the cartoon villain but the movie rises above that and shows us a balanced and unflinching look at the creation and expansion of the McDonald's brand.

    *Minor Spoilers Ahead* When you think of people that have created billion dollar empires, you don't picture them where Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is. It's 1954 and Kroc is slinging milkshake mixers on a diner to diner basis. He's got a nice pitch but his mixers aren't selling, his pitch is met with rejection, dismissal and slammed doors. After trying his luck, he gets food at the diners. He's unimpressed by the service, the quality of the product and the clientele. He puts on a brave face though when he's calling his wife Ethel (Laura Dern) and after feeding her some half-truths about his sales, he goes to be listening to an album about the "Power of Persistence." The next day he calls up head office and they tell him there's an order for 6 mixers out in San Bernardino, California. Ray thinks it's a joke so he calls the location and Dick McDonald (Nick Offerman) answers the phone. The order turns out to be genuine and instead of following his normal route, he heads out to California to see what kind of operation the McDonald brothers are running.

    I didn't know the story about McDonald's so I went in only knowing what the trailer showed. The trailer kind of made Kroc out to be a snake hiding in the grass, which would have still been interesting but the biggest surprise when it came to The Founder was that it took a pretty balanced look at how McDonald's was created. We see Kroc in the beginning and he's more like the hero you would see in a biopic. He's treated poorly by almost everyone because he was out there trying his best to create something. He's got vision but neither the capital nor the idea to realize it. The movie also shows that he had a lot of good business ideas that represented why he was so valuable. He tries new things like targeting blue-collar franchisees instead of the rich and he's dedicated to maintaining a high standard of quality. He's not afraid to roll up his sleeves to do it either. Don't get me wrong, Kroc is a villain and you'll hate him by the end but I appreciated how the movie didn't just distract you from the fact he was essential to this operation.

    Having seen The Founder now, I can't believe that it didn't garner some consideration for Best Picture. But the bigger surprise is that there weren't any nominations for Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor come out of this. I think this may be Michael Keaton's best work, considering his recent output (Birdman and Spotlight) I think that's a pretty big compliment. He conveys such a wide range of emotions through just his facial expressions. He brings some warmth to Kroc at the start but he's frightening when Kroc's motivations turn more sinister. I liked Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch just as much. They seemed to have a real rapport as brothers, they brought some comedic relief early in the movie but they both really sell the drama at the end. B.J. Novak and Laura Dern were good in their supporting parts. Linda Cardellini was a scene-stealer in her parts with Michael Keaton.

    If I had a complaint with this movie, although the first 20 minutes was important to setup Kroc as a character, the movie was pretty slow at that point. It picks up though when he gets to San Bernardino and it didn't suffer any pacing problems after that point. The other thing I would like to talk about is that those of you who always want a happy ending, don't expect one here. The ending was a real gut-punch, the events that happen made me want to yell at the screen. To provoke that kind of reaction from me means the movie did it's job.

    The Founder is a great mix of being informative about a restaurant chain that some of us come into contact with almost everyday. It also provides the right amount of drama to keep things interesting. I really enjoyed this movie and I wish it had gotten the awards attention I think it deserved. It has more mass appeal than the distributor gave it credit for. It hits the notes you need to see in a biopic but it provides more perspective and development than other similar titles. If you can find this at a theatre near you, go check it out.

  • Powdered milk genuine performance.
    by Quietb-1 on 8 December 2016

    12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

    Michael Keaton gives an award worthy performance as burger mogul Ray Kroc. The burgers sizzle as does Keaton who carries this story on his back and keeps this bio pic extremely interesting.

    Kroc comes across as a ruthless devil as he eventually takes everything from the original well acted burger brothers. The relationship with the next wife Joan is played just subtle enough.

    The period look is outstanding. The cars, clothes, and people are perfect. A great script well directed and acted makes for an excellent movie.

    The movie is in limited release and doesn't need a big screen. It's a small movie that will play well on home platforms. Even vegetarians will sink there teeth into this juicy piece of story telling.

  • Fast Food Nation
    by sol- on 4 December 2016

    14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

    Based on the true story of Ray Kroc, a traveling salesman who franchised the first family-owned McDonald's restaurant and turned it into the international conglomerate that it is today, 'The Founder' tells a fascinating slice of twentieth century history. The title is well chosen, hinting at the dynamic at the heart of the film with Kroc declaring himself the "founder" of McDonald's when in fact the idea of fast and efficient food service was never his to begin with - something that becomes a point of contention with the original owners. Michael Keaton is excellent in the lead role, exuding both charm and charisma while also always coming off as if he has something up his sleeve. There are several great shots throughout that linger on his face in close-up as he delivers persuasive sales pitches and there is a magnificent sequence late in the piece where several of his sermons in different locations are edited together to overlap as one big speech. Keaton also does well coming off as both victim and aggressor at varying points. At times, he comes across as an all-too-sympathetic underdog whose dreams are hindered by the McDonalds brothers' unwillingness to compromise in the name of progress. At other points, he seems insanely ruthless with how he circumvents everything in his way. Telling a similar slice of contemporary history, 'The Founder' is bound to be compared to 'The Social Network', to which it does not stack up as well, but it deserves to be considered as a film on its own. The storytelling approach here is more comedic than in the Facebook film and while 'The Founder' may have benefited from even more comedy to lighten the mood, it is an amusing film as it is - and a thought-provoking film when considers its basis in actual fact.

  • The Real Story of a Real Jerk
    by Ben_Cap on 21 January 2017

    20 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

    McDonald's has been one of if not the most influential brands in the world. It has been a staple of not only American fast food but American life, whether you like like it or not. Going into The Founder I did not know a lot Ray Kroc, other than that he was in some way involved with the mega chain. Turns out Kroc is a real piece of work, and while there were things about this story that interested me, overall what we get is the tale of an asshole and how he succeeded in screwing some people out of a lot of money. This is where the movie runs into its main problem, half the time it feels like praying at the alter of Kroc, and the other half feels like a pulled punch to the gut of ultra-capitalists.

    The first act tells about Kroc struggling as a milkshake mixer salesman, when he discovers a restaurant unlike any of the others that he has visited. The speed of service, the consistency of the quality of the food and the way it brought the community together draws Kroc to the burger shack known as McDonald's. The rest of the movie plays out with Kroc slowly bleeding the McDonald brothers of their company and really the original intention of the restaurant. Kroc did implement some innovations that pushed McDonald's into a worldwide franchise, but these moments mostly come after the events of the movie. The innovative ideas that we do see are almost exclusively created by the McDonald brothers, who as previously stated basically get screwed the whole movie.

    Michael Keaton is probably looking right back at you from both sides of the screen right now, so you have probably figured out he plays an important role here. Keaton plays it with his normal light comedy tone, which would work perfectly if the movie had embraced it more. I have no idea what Ray Kroc is like so I really don't know if he was anything like Keaton's performance, but darn it if he is not enjoyable to watch. When Kroc begins his descent into jerk off Keaton is professional enough to pull off the switch in character just enough to keep the original idea of him intact. For the most part everyone else just pops in and out. Nick Offerman and John Carrol Lynch play the McDonald brothers who come and go quite regularly, again mostly getting screwed. Poor Laura Dern plays Kroc's first wife, who is relegated to the bummer at home. She never gets to be anything but disappointing which in turn, is disappointing.

    The McDonald brothers main concern for franchising their restaurant, which had taken them years to perfect just the way they wanted it was that the quality of the food would suffer and thus the name would suffer. Now some 60 odd years later it is funny to think about how that is exactly what happened, and there in lies the main problem with The Founder. There is no critical look at the moves Kroc made. They don't fully back his decisions, but they also don't condemn them. This movie needed a side to take, with it stuck in the middle the story becomes so much less than it could have been. It's like if The Big Short did not make up its mind when it comes to the bankers that caused the financial meltdown.

    My final thoughts on the movie are pretty simple, there is an interesting story here, where in some ways the world was changed for the better, and some for the worse. I just don't believe it was told in the right way, and while not an incredibly important tale was one that was not difficult to sit through. at an hour and 55 minute run time, The Founder just sneaks under the magic 2 hour mark, but honestly could have been about 15 minutes shorter. There was something here, but with the tone of the movie stuck on the fence, The Founder is pretty forgettable.

  • Kroc took their lunch money
    by David Ferguson ( on 19 January 2017

    10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

    Greetings again from the darkness. How you define success will likely determine your interpretation of this film that is every bit as much about the humble beginnings and explosive growth of McDonalds as it is a biopic of Ray Kroc, the self-professed "founder" of the golden arches empire. Capitalism and its corresponding businessmen have not typically been favorably portrayed by Hollywood in such films as The Social Network, Wall Street, Glengarry Glen Ross, Steve Jobs and The Wolf of Wall Street. This latest from director John Lee Hancock (Saving Mr. Banks, The Blind Side) and writer Robert Siegel (The Wrestler) is no exception, and it's obvious why.

    It's 1954 when we first catch up with Ray Kroc (as played by Michael Keaton). He's the type of travelling salesman who totes around his latest widget (a multiple milkshake machine), rehearses and polishes his spiel (via extreme close-up), and listens to motivational record albums that preach the importance of persistence, while he stays at roadside motels that act as his home away from home. Kroc doggedly pursues the American dream, and optimistically bounces from one project to another … convinced that he's found "the next big thing".

    When circumstance leads him to a crowded little octagonal burger shop in San Bernardino, Kroc becomes fascinated with its simplicity and success. Over dinner, Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch) McDonald detail the Spee-Dee kitchen design and unique focus on quality, consistency and speed that today is considered the starting line of the fast-food industry. The tennis court sequence is especially creative and fun to watch. While the brothers prefer to keep the business small and remain in control, Kroc pitches his vision of franchising … a pitch with emphasis on "Crosses. Flags. Arches".

    The full story is likely one most people don't know … despite the fact that McDonalds now feeds 1% of the world population each day (a statistic posted on screen). The relationship between Kroc and the McDonald brothers was never a smooth one, and it's a perfect example of dog-eat-dog, or unprincipled vs idealistic. Kroc sees himself as a "winner", while it's likely most will view his actions as unscrupulous, even if legal.

    Keaton's performance accurately captures a man who is impatiently ambitious, and whose confidence and ego grow incrementally as it becomes inevitable that the decency of the brothers is actually a weakness in business. Offerman and Lynch are both excellent, and other support work is provided by Laura Dern as Kroc's first and mostly neglected wife who is tossed aside when something better comes along; BJ Novak as Harry J Sonneborn, the key to Kroc's power move; Justin Randell Brooks as Fred Turner and Kate Kneeland as June Martino, two trusted employees; and Patrick Wilson as a key franchisee. Linda Cardellini (Mad Men, Bloodline) plays Joan, Ray's wife (she was actually his third) and business adviser from 1969 until his death in 1984. The film shortchanges her importance – at least until the closing credit recap.

    Bookending that opening extreme close-up sales pitch, is a near-conclusion zoom on Keaton's face as he prepares for an event where he will tell his story … at least his version of the story. The film does a really nice job of capturing the era. Of particular interest is that the cars don't look like they rolled right out of a classic car show, as happens with most movies. It's nice to see some faded paint and a dented fender on screen. The early McDonalds locations are beautifully and realistically replicated to provide a nostalgic look for some, and a first glimpse for others. Carter Burwell's score is complementary to the proceedings, and director Hancock deserves credit for not just making this the Michael Keaton/Ray Kroc show. Rather than serving up a Happy Meal movie, the film instead provides a somewhat toned-down historical view of ambition and drive, and the birth of an empire … one that changed our culture.

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