"Hustler, salesman, a chancer, devious, a business man, ambitious, driven, ruthless, a visionary, however you describe him Ray Kroc is certainly the The Founder of McDonald's as we know it today"
McDonald's, wether you eat there or not, you certainly cannot ignore it, or not be familiar with this global brand. Gracing these shores since they first opened a branch here in 1974 in Woolwich, South East London. This cooperation success story begins back in 1954, now dramatised in the film starring Michael Keaton as "The Founder".
The Founder is based on a true story and tells of how Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) a 52 year old traveling salesman who meets Mac and Dick McDonald. They ran a very streamlined burger outlet in 1950s under their own family name of McDonald's. He was impressed by their speedy system of making the food and sees the potential to turn it in to a franchise. Ray is impressed by the concept, but feels stifled by the brothers unwavering stance on what they believe their vision of their McDonald's fast food establishment should be. He then sets about manoeuvring himself into a position where he is able to cease control of the company from the brothers and then over time turned it into the multimillion pound global enterprise we know today.
Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) and his wife Ethel (Laura Dern) live a simple yet quite comfortable life, but both crave more out of life. The later Ethel wishing Ray was at home more often and hoping to get more status through her 'friends' at her social club. At the same time having given up on her husband's pipe dreams.
The character of Ray is that of a hustler, whom as a travel salesman is looking for the elusive deal that's going to make him that fortune that he so craves. Having sold numerous items as a travel salesman, we find him at this point in life selling milkshake makers to drive-in restaurants, mostly unsuccessfully.
During one of his routine sales Ray learns of an unusually large order for the milkshake makers that he initially believes to be a mistake, but upon phoning and checking the order is correct his curiosity is aroused and he decides to see why a restaurant would order such a large number and sets about driving to California. What he finds is McDonald's a highly popular walk-up restaurant with very fast service, quality food, disposable packaging and with a family clientele. Very different to drive-in restaurants with slow service and frequented by teenagers he's familiar with.
Ray introduces himself to Mac McDonald (John Carroll Lynch) and explains to him that he is the salesman who sold them the milkshake makers. He then points out he's very impressed with the whole operation. After being introduced to Dick McDonald (Nick Offerman) he is then given a tour of mechanised working practices within McDonald's. The brothers explain how they came up with the concept of McDonald's and how it evolved in to it's current successful business. At this point Ray tells Mac and Dick that he wants to FRANCHISE McDonald's.
The pace of the film combined with it's slight touch of nostalgia means it manages to deliver an entertaining piece of cinema without feeling like an advert for McDonald's, partly because of story, but also because McDonald's has naturally or by design evolved beyond it's beginnings over the years allowing the viewer to disconnect the McDonald's of today and of yesteryear.
The supporting cast do an admirable job; Laura Dern's Ethel could have been fleshed out more. However it's Michael Keaton who gives an impressive performance as Ray Kroc; a hustler, a man driven by greed and ambition. His character lives up to old adage of "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Hustler, salesman, a chancer, devious, a business man, ambitious, driven, ruthless, a visionary, however you describe him Ray Kroc is certainly the The Founder of McDonald's as we know it today.