It's been about a month since I last wrote a review as I've been busy binging shows on Netflix! In-between binging, I've managed to sneak in a few movies and I thought I'd post reviews about two of the movies. I decided to watch two Michael Keaton films that had been on my list for a while. The first will be the focus of this review. Obviously. The Founder is a film focusing on Ray Kroc, a salesman from Illinois and the would-be founder of the McDonald's corporation. He would be the founder, except Ray stole the idea from a couple of brothers in California instead. I don't know how much the movie actually provides that actually happened versus Hollywood dramatization, but what it does provide is definitely interesting. Keaton is fantastic as the titular character but is that even a surprise?
The film starts off with Keaton's Ray Kroc being wholly unsuccessful as an appliance salesman. His delivery is great but it's missing something. The speeches and spiels almost hit all the right notes but apparently the products aren't as sales-worthy as Kroc believes them to be. That is, until he gets word that a restaurant wants to order not one, but six of the milkshake blenders he's hocking. Believing it to be an error, Kroc calls the restaurant only to find out that six wouldn't be enough. Kroc has to see the restaurant for himself, so he drives out to California and meets with the McDonald brothers. This is where the movie really begins.
Kroc gets to California, meets the brothers, and immediately inserts himself into their business. Despite previous attempts, Ray is sure franchises will work with his help. He succeeds as we all know. His attention to detail, whip-cracking, and being a prick all pay off for Ray in the end as McDonald's is obviously the mega-corporation we know it to be today. I think what caught my eye throughout the film was how Keaton never made the character grating or annoying. Clearly this guy knew what he wanted and wasn't afraid to risk it all to get there. Keaton was able to show that on-screen in a really exciting way, a way that was able to highlight that drive, that determination, the fire and rage, but also some tenderness. A scene involving Kroc and his future wife singing a song while playing piano was a showstopper for me. While the lady was married to another man at the time (in the film, possibly in real life), Ray wasn't shy about showing how much he wanted to be with her but not in his usual abrasive and crass way. It was romantic and quite the change from the guy that basically infuriated everyone he came into contact with.
This is one of those movies where you know things like how it ends. Of course Ray Kroc is successful. McDonald's is a household name. It's a damned staple the world over! The journey (albeit truncated for cinematic purposes) is an exciting one and we get a great performance out of Michael Keaton as well. There's a lot of win here and while I don't usually go for "based on true story" material, I'd made a mental note to see this when I first saw a trailer and regret only getting to it now. I'm glad I did get to see it though and would recommend it to people who are interested in a silver-screen version of one man's victory despite having a losing hand. Oh! The soundtrack was very soft and subtle. Quite pleasing.