When I watched this movie, I remembered going to McDonald’s the first time as a kid and ordering multiple hamburgers. This is a movie about the flaws inherent in our American free market system.
The Founder, starring Michael Keaton, is a movie with a bit of interest that is dying at the box office. It tells the story of Arthur Kroc, who helped to found the McDonald’s franchise, and it vacillates between interesting moments and a bit of boredom.
Keaton plays Mr. Kroc, a guy selling door-to-door appliances when he stumbles onto the McDonald brothers, played by Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch. The boys have opened the first McDonald’s restaurant in San Bernadino, California, and they have unintentionally attached themselves to a commercial spaceship of unknown destinations.
Mr. Offerman and Mr. Lynch play Dick and Mac McDonald, small town boys who have opened up a pandora’s box of possibilities. They have renovated the whole concept of drive-up restaurants, and they find it impossible to recognize success on any level other than the local market.
Stumbling their way comes Mr. Kroc, a guy who recognizes the tantalizing possibilities of the McDonald’s theme playing out in the national market. Mr. Keaton plays a nice guy who is at his heart an SOB, and he successfully anticipates a market where he can personally make a fortune.
The strength of this movie begins with the performance of Mr. Keaton, playing a character who is about to become a billionaire on a global stage. Valuing the input from his loyal wife Ethel (played with heartwarming style by Laura Dern), you know that he is going to dump her at some point down the road.
As noted, this movie is going nowhere at the box office. That is an unfortunate disappointment, as it serves as an historical study of a small town boy who can make good in our American capitalistic system at the expense of many others. Success comes with a cost, and that is the importance of this film.