A friend told me to see The Founder the other day, so guess what? That’s exactly what I did.
A film about a down on his luck salesman who sells milkshake makers leaving his poor wife neglected at home. We know where this film is heading, he comes up with an inventive business idea, he faces challenges and succeeds in the end.
Yes and no.
The film tracks Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) who does try to sell milkshake makers until he receives an order for eight products from two brothers managing their new fast food hamburger restaurant. Ray Kroc wants a piece of the action from the McDonald brothers asking to setup a franchise in his neck of the woods. The film kicks off from there.
Dick McDonald (Nick Offerman) and Mac McDonald (John Carroll Lynch) are presented as good hearted guys who stand firm by family principles but don’t understand the concept of business, expansion and wealth creation. The film’s conflict shines here as Ray Kroc wants to franchise more and expand with his business mind. Michael Keaton plays the character with his own eccentricity. You can’t question that he’s believable in his role however I would have liked to see more of the brothers struggling with him over the odd scene with Kroc and his estranged marriage with Ethel Kroc ( Laura Dern).
The film does slow its pace ever so slightly at mid point and you can see the direction of where the climax will be heading.
The very fact that the film is titled ” The Founder” we know it will focus on his story. Setting up franchises, learning business trade is what he learns. The viewer can even learn here is his preach of persistence.
Persistence isn’t what the film preaches. It preaches bullishness and bloody-mindedness as the key skill for business. I can imagine a group of business students watching this film and applying practical skills learnt from Ray Kroc. They’ll understand concepts of change management hidden within the film and adapting from old models of success to create new ones. In the same way, I can imagine social activists watching it, straight away setting up a social media campaign to boycott McDonalds on Facebook and Twitter.
Watch the film, decide for yourself. Did he seize the opportunity or did he take it away from the two that originally had it? Is he a businessmen or a crook?
I’ll let you decide.
Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc
Nick Offerman as Dick McDonald
John Carroll Lynch as Mac McDonald
Laura Dern as Ethel Kroc