Movie Review : The Founder (2016)
I'm sorry if you expected a review of It or Darren Aronofsky's Mother! It's not going to happen today. I haven't even sniffed the mouth-watering popcorn scent of a theater in three weeks now and it's probably not going to happen until October. Speaking of mouth-watering, I decided to watch (and review) The Founder, also known as the movie about the McDonald's guy. See, I fucking love McDonald's and I could learn a thing or two about it, aside for new and creative ways to shove their delicious golden french fries in my mouth. And I did, for better or worse I did learn a thing or two about the best goddamn fast food restaurant chain in the world.
So, The Founder is the true story of Ray Kroc (played by Hollywood's miracle man Michael Keaton), a two-bit midwestern door-to-door salesman with dreams of becoming important. His fortune changes the day he delivers an eight mixers order to a pair of Californian restaurant owners Dick and Mo McDonald (respectively played by Nick Offerman and professional what's-his-face guy John Carroll Lynch). Their dream of an über efficient FAST food burger joint where orders are delivered inside thirty seconds become his dream and he will not stop until America is covered with McDonald's golden arches from coast to coast and then some. Ray Kroc found his American Dream, only it doesn't quite belong to him.
I fucking hated this movie.
The Founder is not bad or stupid, but it has a noxious logic that colors everything it is saying. Ever heard of the gospel of prosperity? It's the (very) American belief that success and financial wealth is the will of God for you. This is exactly what's happening to Ray Kroc in The Founder. He is magically blessed with a vision after meeting the McDonald brothers. The religious undertones of the scene are ridiculous. Kroc kneels in the soil and thoughtfully grabs a handful, looking at the horizon. He is subsequently rewarded for fucking over just about everyone he meets. He turns his back on his deal with the McDonald brothers, making them simple franchisees. Divorces his wife for being an unsupportive, sexless drone. Runs of with a younger franchisee's wife. The list goes on.
I know what you're going to tell me: Ben it's how it really happened. Ray Kroc took everything from the McDonald brothers, became filthy rich and died a happy, filthy rich man. I understand that. My problem is not with the facts, but how they're told. Did screenwriter Robert Siegel HAVE to depict the McDonald brothers as dumb, control freak yokels afraid of becoming too big for their britches? Would the world have been a worse place if McDonald's remained a mom-and-pop shop in California? I would've been at least 10% less happy, but maybe 20% healthier. Did the movie HAVE to depict Ray Kroc's first wife as this resigned, morose automaton? No. The Founder doesn't have an ounce of subtlety. It's a religious movie that glamorizes the gospel of prosperity through the story of Ray Kroc. And that is taking paying audience for morons. It's the biggest sin a movie can commit.
Fuck this movie. Fuck its rose-colored glasses take on the American Dream. It doesn't even make you want to eat McDonald's like Supersize Me once did, because it barely features any food. So, what's the point, really? The only thing The Founder taught me was that Ray Kroc was a great salesman, a thief and that stealing people's life work is 100% legal if you have enough money. The original tagline for the movie was a lot more honest about what it really is: "He took someone else's idea and America ate it up." It has been magically replaced by "Risk taker. Rule breaker. Game Changer" once the movie came out. Quite a shift in tone, isn't it? The Founder stinks of third party interference, whether it's from studio executives or Ray Kroc's estate, on top of things. I hated it and if you're going to watch it, you need to watch it for what it truly is. A piece of pseudo-religious propaganda.