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26 Jan 2017

The Man Behind McDonald's (Sorta): Michael Keaton Shines in Uneven Film 'The Founder'

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Michael Keaton in The Founder. Michael Keaton in The Founder.

Michael Keaton is fantastic in The Founder as Ray Kroc, the sorta-kinda founder of McDonald’s. Director John Lee Hancock’s film tells his story, from Kroc selling milkshake mixers door-to-door, through his wife-stealing days as the head of the McDonald’s corporation.

Hancock’s movie desperately wants us to like Kroc … but maybe we shouldn’t? After all, he swept in and took the name of McDonald’s from the McDonald brothers (played by Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch), effectively cutting them out of most profits and leaving them in his dust.

The film is at its best when it is in old-time, Americana mode. It’s a beautiful-looking movie that captures the essence of those old-timey fast-food joints that replaced the traditional drive-in diners. It slows down and gets a little muddled when it tries to depict Kroc as some sort of commerce hero. Hmm … I suppose if they went into details about how McDonald’s has contributed to worldwide obesity and environmental concerns, McDonald’s would’ve broken out the lawyers and put the kibosh on the whole thing.

Offerman is great as the well-meaning, high-standards McDonald brother who regrets the day he met Kroc. Keaton gets high marks for a film that is ultimately uneven.

The Founder is playing at theaters across the valley.

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