the Fresco team review: The Founder (The McDonald’s® Story)

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Had a little time off yesterday midnight after tucking the little boss to sleep and managed to catch this before going to bed at 1am. Not sure why, I have the knack of watching such movies – motivational, start-ups, sales, business and rags to riches kinda stuff. Probably it resonates to what I am now and what I’m trying too achieve. Being self-employed for half a decade and counting, one sure need the constant self-talk and motivation to move on.

The movie is just really about how McDonald’s came about and how one man- whether you see him as a villain or simply a man with vision and a risk taker, build a fast food empire when opportunity beckons.

Michael Keaton (loved his expressions) is Ray Kroc, the travelling milkshake mixer salesman in the 50s, trying to make it big with whatever he is doing and strikes it big when he met the McDonald brothers, Mac & Dick McDonald selling hamburgers using a speedy system. The movie then begin to map out Ray’s vision of franchising the business and eventually buys out the McDonald’s business from the brothers – somewhat unethically, for some.

What works here is definitely the main protagonist, Ray Kroc, beautifully portrayed by Michael Keaton. You can see how enthusiastic and jumpy the character is when things begin to pick up and at the same time, the sense of ruthlessness when things need to be executed quickly to move forward.  This is the part where you need to really understand, as a businessman, most often than not, when opportunity strikes, it takes more than a humble and good-natured man to get things done. Not entire on the same page, but I do feel that Ray is merely doing what he think can make this move quickly and knitting closely to his vision of bringing the fast food chain to a multi million dollar franchise business.

Although it is great when Harry Sonneborn was introduced as the financial consultant to Ray in the middle of the movie, his part seemed rushed and you have a funny feeling why a person he just met at the bank, and a quick look at his ledger, know so much about what is happening and jumped so quickly to offer his services to Ray. Maybe it’s the editing or narrative nature of the movie, but i would’ve worked better if Harry’s role is stretched a little more.

The McDonald brothers, acted by Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch, is a fresh take of 2 decent businessman trying to build their dreams only to be consumed by the goal-driven and ruthless Ray Kroc. However, their roles were slightly underused and the comedic pieces don’t jive along with the story well. Not sure if this was how they deal with Ray, they just seemed goofy and uninspired.

There is one particular scene which I think I can relate to really well. At the 40th-minutes mark, right after Ray mortgaged his home to purchase a land to build his first McDonald outlet in Des Plaines, Illinois, he uttered this – “Be right, just be right one time”. This is a man who took an enormous risk and sold his home to chase his dreams knowing that he only have one shot to make it. The sense of desolation and grittiness is almost unbearable, for a man to prove his worth not only to himself but to his spouse, his friends, business partners and the public.

Overall, this is a simple biopic of the man who not only reinvent the franchise business but also remind us that sometimes, we need others to help us to see the bigger picture. Look for this when Harry Sonneborn explains to Ray what business is he actually doing. The movie shows what it wants to tell but I thought it would be better if they focus a little more from all the set-pieces and not leaving us a little ’empty’ after the show.

Verdict: 3.5 out of 5


Th Founder image is courtesy of http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/weinstein/thefounder/

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