This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man behind the success of McDonalds. Or is it?
I don't know how accurately Ray Kroc is portrayed in the movie, or how factual it is. It's based on a true story, but is not a documentary. A filmmaker's goal is to make an entertaining and profitable movie. Whatever literal truth comes out is a bonus, but a deeper truth is what counts. Founder highly succeeds on this level. It is engaging, entertaining, and sharply portrays a person that is both fascinating and scary. It would benefit anyone to be able to recognize this type of person when they are encountered.
The movie is beautifully clear and unsentimental. The story is presented in a straight-forward way rarely seen in movies today, and it's a breath of fresh air. There are no fancy transitions, flashbacks, or time shifts, and there is no dramatic music. The movie is full of visual appeal, bright and attractive. The designs of the buildings, cars, and costumes are fantastic, including the exteriors and inner workings of the McDonalds restaurants. The dialog and action are both uncomplicated, and there is no mumbling and very little beneath the surface.
There was one piece of visual symbolism that is artfully done. Look for it in the scene where Ray Kroc is speaking on the phone, seen through the window panes of his door. I would guess there are more moments like this. It's a movie I'll watch again, so I'll look for them.
The acting is strong throughout, for parts large and small. Many of the small parts add a great deal. I can't remember a single event or bit of dialog that wasn't believable. The movie is joyful and polite, like movies used to be, but never phony or insipid. There is a complete absence of melodrama.
I had a free pass and no expectations so the movie was a pleasant surprise. It was absorbing from beginning to end. A chatty audience wouldn't settle down at the beginning, and people were shushing and yelling "Quiet, quiet!" The noise didn't last long, though, and there wasn't a peep until after the movie finished. Then a woman loudly exclaimed, "What a bastard!"
I am not going to judge Ray Kroc based on this movie, or assume that I learned the true story of McDonalds. It has inspired me to search for books and documentaries on the subject.
The truth of the movie is beyond question. There are people among us who are charming, passionate, likable, driven to succeed, and inspiring, and yet worthy of contempt.
A small amount of well-placed voice-over in the movie breaks it down. Success doesn't depend on talent or education. "The world is full of educated fools." Determination is key.
But does material success sometimes (often?) come at a price? Does it require the sale of your soul? The Ray Kroc in Founder is a down-to-earth, tirelessly hardworking man who will not accept defeat. He values excellence. But he is also a man who will look you in the eye and make a promise he has no intention of keeping. He is a man who wouldn't bother to stab you in the back if it would serve him equally to stab you in the front. He says, "If my competitor were drowning, I'd stick a hose in his mouth."
Founder was released on January 20, 2017.
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