Somewhere along the way, John Lee Hancock’s biography of McDonald’s king Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) turns into a Steve Jobs-style “portrait of the visionary as an asshole”—and if it had committed to that point of view earlier, it might not have felt so tedious. Robert D. Siegel’s script opens with Kroc as a down-on-his-luck travelling salesman in 1954, when he discovers a California burger restaurant—run by brothers Mac (John Carroll Lynch) and Dick McDonald (Nick Offerman)—with a concept Kroc is convinced he can turn into gold. Keaton commits fully to Kroc’s sweaty, relentless old-school salesmanship, and there are a few interesting plot moments as the business turns into a behemoth. But the plot moves far too sluggishly through various business details, no matter how pivotal they might ultimately have been in McDonald’s history, and waiting far too long to bring the focus around to Kroc’s emergence as corporate cutthroat. The shift comes out of nowhere, and whatever The Founder might be trying to say about this story as metaphor for the American Dream as corrupter of morality gets lost in the minutiae.
Director: John Hancock
Producer: Don Handfield, Jeremy Renner, Aaron Ryder, Glen Basner, Alison Cohen, Karen Lunder, Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein, David Glasser, Christos Konstantakopoulos, Holly Brown, David Greathouse and William Johnson
Cast: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Lynch, Laura Dern, Linda Cardellini, B.J. Novak, Patrick Wilson, Justin Brooke and Griff Furst