The Founder

“I love Mickey D’s, always have. Growing up, it was usually considered a treat, something for minor special occassions. Once I was an “”adult”” and had access to it whenever I wanted, I kinda went nuts and ate lunch there 3x a week and gained 40 pounds. Even after I lost that weight and make much more effort to eat healthy, I still need an occasional french fry fix. There was a location on the way to one of my go to movie theaters in Boston, and it was a regular occurrence for me to pick up a Happy Meal to sneak in. Boy that would have been appropriate this time. Even now that I’ve sworn off most fast food, I can’t go more than a month without the Golden Arches. It’s just something that will forever hold a place in my heart, and after seeing this movie, it seems like that was intentional.

The Founder tells the story of Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), the salesman who encountered the first revolutionary McDonald’s and set out to create a fast food empire. I’d vaguely known somewhere in the back of my head that the guy that established McDonald’s wasn’t a real McDonald, and I assumed (correctly, it would turn out) that he’d somehow screwed the mysterious mister(s) McDonald’s over. We follow Kroc as he courts the McDonald’s brothers (John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman) and convinces them to allow him to use their techniques and their name to get things rolling. Over time, their traditional values that they want to ground their restaurants in begin to clash with Kroc’s ambition and business ideas. You can guess where this is going.

The story was enthralling, and at times enraging. I always love discovering new true stories like this one, and it kept me on the edge of my seat. It also affirmed much of what I hate about the business mindset in this country, the idea that one should stop at nothing to maximize their own profits without regard to who it’s hurting in the process. I get that as the one who put it all together, Kroc was entitled to a certain level of profit and success, and that’s all good. The problem comes when you cross the line to pure greed. I was seething thru the last third of the movie, and felt powerless because it’s not that uncommon of a story.

Moving on from the anxiety caused by the storyline, the actors in this film were fantastic. This was an excellent showcase for Keaton, one that had initially garnered much deserved Oscar buzz, although it seems to have dropped from the conversation lately. I just love that an actor who has paid his dues for so long has in recent years been giving such prestigious roles (Birdman, Spotlight, etc), and while it might not happen yet, I assume Oscar gold is in his future at some point. However, the ones I was really behind here Lynch and Offerman. In his career, Lynch’s roles have always been either incredibly sympathetic or incredibly intimidating. This was the former to a whole new level. My heart broke everytime I saw his expression and spirits dampen. And then there was Offerman. I just finished watching all of Parks and Rec for the first time (tore thru it in like a week, yay funemployment!), so it made me extra happy seeing Ron Swanson driving a movie. It was one thing when Lynch often gave a look of defeat, but the few times that Swanson did were painful. I most sided with him throughout the film, and he always expressed exactly what I felt as I was watching. It still stings a bit.

The theater that I went to is right next to a Panda Express, so I planned to grab lunch there afterwards (yay receipt survey for free additional entree!). However, I figured that watching the movie would make me want to seek out the nearest Mickey D’s instead, which I was prepared to do. And yes, there were points where all I wanted was to chow down on those crunchy perfect fries. But with where things ended, let’s just say I was happy to go to Panda instead. I’m sure I’ll be back at Mickey D’s by month’s end anyways, but right now, it’s just too soon. I can’t stomach it quite yet.

The Founder – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

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