By: Orlando Sanchez
Starring: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, BJ Novak, and Laura Dern
Director: John Lee Hancock
The story of a successful business venture being coopted by greedy individuals and being twisted into something unrecognizable is universal. Yet despite all that, The Founder lacks that special ingredient that brings it all together. Keaton addresses the audience like a fast food version of Tony Robbins hawking his notion that he is in all intents and purposes the progenitor of the Golden Arches. By film’s end you believe fully that he believes he is absolutely the titular character.
The story is a familiar one; it opens with Kroc, the failing milkshake mixer salesman, with a well-rehearsed pitch failing to earn a single customer. His fortunes are changed when an order is placed for 8 mixers to a little upstart in San Bernardino. It is here where the film shines best when you begin to understand how revolutionary the speedy system created by Dick and Mac McDonald was at the time. After our initial introduction however, the film becomes an incoherent mess dealing with at once a biopic, a drama about a collapsed marriage, and the intersection between commerce and human decency.
If there is a single issue to point at and fix it’s clearly the misjudgments in the direction of the film by John Lee Hancock who despite a decade plus career still feels like a journeyman. The film isn’t bad actually. There are genuinely stand out performances like Offerman’s whose character flies in the face of his well-treaded persona. Likewise the script reads like a cross between the Social Network and Mamet-lite which works, but alas a much more competent director would’ve made it shine. Overall The Founder is completely serviceable but one can only imagine how much better it could’ve been.